Monday Morning Pastor – Big Questions

March 27, 2018

Note: Each week we will have a guest writer who will share a few of their personal thoughts on Sunday’s sermon. Unlike Monday Morning Quarterbacking, from which this series gets its name, we aren’t looking to critique so much as share how we have been personally impacted. This week’s post comes from Debbie McCarson.

When I was new to Hope, and first read Monday Morning Quarterback, my thoughts were, “Wow, a church where a pastor invites his congregation to have an open and public dialogue about his sermons: that’s trust.” This is a big deal to me, not necessarily because I have something to say, but because it indicates that our church leadership trusts the Spirit of God with His own word. I want a church with that kind of freedom.

In last Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Mark posed some questions: Is everyone in the world capable of knowing God; Is the general revelation of God through creation enough; and finally, Is your faith real enough to have big questions? These questions, and the whole of the sermon, reminded me of a correspondence that took place between Charles Darwin and Asa Gray. Gray was Darwin’s contemporary and friend, and he was also a Christian. Gray tried to convince Darwin, and everyone, that science and faith were not mutually exclusive, and he even attempted to reconcile Darwin’s theories with Christianity.

Darwin wasn’t altogether eager to reject the idea of a Creator. He writes to Gray, “. . .I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & specifically the nature of man and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws. . .and that all these laws may have been expressly designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event and consequence.”

What tripped Darwin up, however, is the idea that this same omniscient Creator could also design a system in which the survival of one creature would depend on the demise of another. He writes, “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.” Darwin had big questions.

Of course, we as Christians attribute the parasitic behavior of Darwin’s Inchneumonidae on the fall of mankind that left us with a broken world. And in this broken world, parasites in the animal kingdom aren’t the only ones who devour one another. Humans do it, too, when we give way to bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.

I also have some big questions.  I am not so concerned with the hypothetical man on the desert island who has not heard the gospel, but by the hypothetical man who has. I sometimes wonder about that man, or that woman, who has seen Christ grossly misrepresented. If this hypothetical man can believe God exists because he sees the glory of God in creation, but can’t quite recognize that same God in those who misrepresent Christ, what is the state of his soul? This is my big question.

I don’t care for answers such as, “God can take care of that,” even though I know that is the right answer. I still want to know how. How will God take care of the worst kind of betrayal – the exploitation of Christianity for personal gain? How will God heal that? Perhaps this kind of speculation is not worth pursuing, but it’s all the more reason for me to heed Pastor Mark’s final question of this past Sunday, “Will you let the glory of God be shown through your life?”

For all its knowledge, science still has big questions. Science still has no answer to why the fundamental forces of nature exist. Science knows there is gravity and electromagnetic force, but science just can’t explain why. Scientists like Darwin just won’t make the leap to conclude, well – because God.

Philosophers and psychologists are now speculating that human consciousness is on the same plane as other fundamental laws of science and nature. That is, it exists, and we can name and study its correlation to experiences in the world, but the phenomenon itself is beyond our comprehension. Philosophers can’t comprehend that human consciousness is the Spirit of truth and life breathed into us by our Creator. Just as He has given each of us the sun and the moon and the stars, He’s given each of us the Spirit of life and truth, or as Pastor Mark said in his message, “If someone accepts general revelation, God gives them specific revelation.” And so finally, I can conclude that this fundamental law of nature- of creation- the Spirit of truth and life within each of us, is the vehicle God can use to heal the worst betrayals.  It’s why a pastor can trust his congregation to publicly discuss how his sermons affect us; it’s why the church has survived for 2000 years. Despite human imperfection, the Spirit within each of us bears witness to the truth.