Wisdom Walks

Unbelief devours people, and delights in it. Unbelief can consume one person, as an edible dainty from a passing tray, or, greedy as death, it can gulp them down by the pouch full — denominations, seminaries, publishing houses, families, and cities. Grendel, it is said, could grab thirty men at a time.

And just as unbelief loves to eat souls — the bitter and envious ones have the sweetest crackle — so also unbelief is utterly hostile to that which is indigestible to it. That indigestible reality is evangelical and living faith — the only kind of faith that God gives. Faith and unbelief can recognize one another instantly — by the smell, Scripture says — and this is why Haman was giving Mordecai the stink eye from the first time he saw him. Haman was descended from Agag, and Mordecai was descended from the house of Kish. There was some unfinished business there, and they both knew about it. They both displayed their lineage — Haman by filling up with helium of vanity, and Mordecai by not bending, by refusing obeisance to the helium man.

Like termites need wood, so also unbelief needs the structures of faith that a living faith once built. They can’t get at the wood when it is still alive and growing, but once the living truth has gone through the sawmill of accreditation and become a standardized two by four of truth — watch out. A brief review will make the point — just imagine Fuller sitting in on a few classes at Fuller Seminary, Carl Henry dropping in at CT after reading the three most recent issues, or Thomas Cranmer trying to make it through the homily of the most theologically-minded dyke in the diocese. The word “scene” comes to mind.

Unbelief does not announce its atheism all at once; the thing is done by gradations and creeping inches. A doubt here, a little nuance there, a creative reading or two, and the first thing you know, you are showing all the steadfastness and loyalty of a Franky Schaeffer.

For those who build organizations and institutions — and I am in that number — the most dangerous assumption in the world is to think that because it has your name associated with it, that it will somehow be given a bye in this particular single elimination tournament. My son Nate is perhaps a bit more cynical about this than I am, but not by much. His thesis is that in any meeting associated with any institution, if said meeting goes longer than half an hour, someone will make a proposal which, if implemented, will ruin everything.

I can say this much. I have never been associated with any institution — and there have been numerous faithful ones — where I could not see the development of unbelief’s prerequisites, the opening gambits of unbelief, or plain and manifest displays of that unbelief. This is why the motto of NSA is gleaned from Cotton Mather. “For the faithful, wars will never cease.”

Chesterton tells us that if we want to keep the same white post, we will have to keep changing it. Left unchanged, it will become the black post.

Unbelief drifts. Wisdom walks, and fights as it goes.

14
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
14 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Jane DunsworthEric the RedkatechoMatthiasdelurking Recent comment authors

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
prayersofadoration
Member

In any meeting associated with any institution, if said meeting goes longer than half an hour, someone will make a proposal which, if implemented, will ruin everything.

Needs tightening but I think we can call this Nate’s law, kind of a corollary of  Conquest’s.

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Does this also apply to not believing in Thor, Apollo, Rainbow Snake or All-Father Odin?

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

So sad, but true.  But it used to be that the number of ok-to-good churches you could find were plentiful.  Now how many do you know of?  Global cooling phase, I guess.

BJ
Guest
BJ

This Presbyterian tradition is a classic example. How many Presbyterian institutions have been founded on the Word of God, and almost totally secularized? I know that there are many great bible-believing Presbyterians and Presbyterian institutions left, but I am stunned to find so many of them that have gone the way of Princeton. I wonder what Calvin would think?

delurking
Guest
delurking

Oh, Erik The Red, quit goofing.  You know it’s only wrong if you don’t believe in *their* god.
 
Unbelief in all the other gods is just acting right.

Jane
Member

Eric and delurking, doesn’t that just logically follow if the Triune God is real and the others are not?
Regardless of whether you are convinced that God is as He has revealed Himself to be in Christ, it is not very sound to question a premise based on the idea that if it were false, the conclusions that flow from it would be equally false. It’s not very original, either.

Matthias
Guest

OH, he mentioned God! Quick! Throw in the names of other gods, regardless of whether it has anything at all to do with the post! HAHA! #winning

Katecho
Member

I’ve never understood the logic of an atheist hiding behind false gods.  If the atheist finds 10,000 losing lottery tickets, is it rational for him to conclude that a winning ticket does not exist?  If the atheist exposes 100 counterfeit gold coins, is it logical to conclude that there is no such thing as a real gold coin?  There is a reason why counterfeits exist.  It’s because the genuine article exists.  The Flying Spaghetti Monster seems to be a monument to a logical fallacy.

Jane
Member

Or it’s like saying that since there are fake lottery tickets, then the assertion that failing to cash in the real one (assuming a real one exists) will cost you is somehow silly, because it’s prejudicial against all the people who believe in fake ones. Either God is real, and unbelief is a bad idea (partly because it’s just false and partly because there are consequences of all sorts), or He’s not. Raising the point that unbelief would not be a bad idea if God were not real doesn’t really get you very far. I suppose the underlying objection is… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Katecho, Jane and Matthias, my point has nothing to do with false gods (a term I consider redundant, by the way).  Rather, it’s about applying principles and arguments in an even-handed rather than a result-oriented manner.  Most of the things Doug said about unbelief in the God of the Bible could have been argued with equal force by true believers about other gods through the ages.  I have no doubt there were atheists living among the Norsemen who disbelieved in the gods of Valhalla, and they, too, were probably made out to be bitter, anti-social enemies of everything beautiful.  All… Read more »

Jane
Member

Eric, the point is that your claim that anybody could say this is true, but trivial. If God is real, then it doesn’t matter if some believer in something else could have said the same thing, it’s still true, and the other believer’s claim is still false. If He’s not real, it’s false regardless.______________________________________________________________________________ Wilson isn’t suggesting that God is real because unbelief is destructive. He’s saying that unbelief is destructive because God is real, and he’s speaking to Christians who take it as a given that God is real — we’re not looking for pragmatic reasons to bolster that.… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Jane, there was once a very famous drug trial in which a scientist wannabe testified that he decided to see if the substance was cocaine by adding water, since cocaine dissolves in water.  The next question was, “And if the substance had been powdered sugar, what would that have done when you added water?”  And that’s the same logical fallacy at issue here.  In order for an argument to be valid, its conclusion has to be limited to the premise you’re trying to prove.

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

But I think the argument is wrong in any event.  With respect, I bet I know more atheists than you do.  Some of them are happy, joyful people who are a pleasure to be around; others are miserable human beings.  Some of them are highly ethical; others I wouldn’t trust with a nickel.  Some of them are very successful; others have lives that are train wrecks.  If there is a correlation between being an unbeliever and anything else at all, I don’t know what it is.  As PZ Myers is fond of saying, probably 99% of the people on the… Read more »

Jane
Member

Eric, the point is, it’s not an argument. Wilson is not trying to prove to you that you should believe in God. He is warning you (and the rest of us, Christians are capable of unbelief as well) of what happens when you do not believe the truth about God, because it is still true, whether Eric is persuaded of it or not. “If you jump off a cliff, you will do yourself harm” is still true even though it is also true that if you stab yourself with a knife, you will also do yourself harm, that if the… Read more »