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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Quote of the Day (5)

Last week, Tertius and I discussed the first chapter of Romans, comparing its language to statements about faith in Hebrews. Specifically, we were interested in how much about God may be known from nature, and how that knowledge is different from what may be known by faith.

Paul says in Romans, For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

Tertius and I agree that “eternal power and divine nature” takes in quite a bit.

Philip Sandifer is a writer and atheist. In a literary debate with Vox Day last week, he suddenly became quite blunt about where he stands in relation to God, providing a rather striking illustration of the truth of Romans 1:
“I am profoundly concerned that your god exists and wields the power you describe. It is literally my greatest existential fear; a terror that has genuinely kept me up at night, because in the event that it is true I am knowingly signing myself up for an eternity of torment that goes beyond anything I am capable of imagining.

I have no concern whatsoever that his authority is legitimate, however. It is not, at least over what I understand to be me, Philip Sandifer. The self that I am solipsistically invested in has an independent consciousness from your god. I am but a sinner, cast out into a material world and fundamentally separated from your god. But where you view my sin as my imprisonment in a lowly, materialist prison, I view it as my freedom from the tyrant you choose to serve.

To misquote Blake, I am of the devil’s party and know it.”
Apparently it is possible to grasp quite a bit about both the power and the divine nature of God from an atheistic perspective. What seems near-impossible for the atheist to do is make the leap to the perspective of faith described in Hebrews:
“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
He created it with his word. He upholds it with his word.

Pray for Phil Sandifer. God has given him the gift of life and the gift of a keen intelligence, and yet he remains unable to get his head around the very simple concept that his “independent consciousness” is only independent because God graciously allows it. It is “upheld” by the word of God, giving him the capacity to think thoughts opposed to God and to mouth words of defiance back to his creator. That’s a lot of grace, which is a good thing, because there are lots of Phil Sandifers out there in need of it.

Paul adds one more thing in Romans: “So they are without excuse.”

Quite so.

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