The Thumbtack of Faith

The Thumbtack of Faith

At bottom, the difference between faith in God and all other alternatives is a choice: to believe or not to believe. But this is no blind leap of faith.

Faith is not irrational.

Faith is not insanity.

Faith is not stepping into the void.

Faith is sanity.

Faith is choosing to see what is actually there.

Faith is the choice to embrace life, the world, God.

Certainly, faith is not exhaustive knowledge or complete understanding. Faith believes certain things that are unseen. But we do not believe the unseen things based on nothing. Faith is not a shot in the dark. Faith is not a good guess.

Faith sees the stars and gapes in wonder. Faith sees a little baby in her mother’s arms and blinks back tears of astonishment. Faith sees even evil, mind-numbing atrocities and aches with revulsion. But these realities do not add up to nothing. They are parts of a story, lines in a poem, and the punch line is God, a good and loving Creator, and a world bracing with beauty, slashed and cracked with evil and sin.

That’s not a stretch. That’s right there in your face, every day.

Suppression Insanity

That means that the choice to not believe, the choice to turn away from God is the suppression of these truths (Romans 1:18). In other words, it is not a rational decision. It is a form of insanity.

But to say that refusing to believe in God is insanity is not the same thing as saying it is not understandable. It is an understandable mistake. It’s understandable because it’s the kind of decision that requires telling the truth. And truth telling has a way of shining light into the corners of peoples’ lives that is highly uncomfortable. This is why our rejection of the light is often multilayered. People build complex psychological and emotional barriers to the truth. They are still culpable. They are still responsible, but it’s understandable because there’s sin down in those corners. It’s dark down there.

The Creator

To admit that the world has a Creator is to admit that this world has a reason, a purpose. To admit that there is a Designer is to admit that there is a moral order, a functional order, a right and a wrong, a better and worse way to live life. To admit that this world was created is to admit that you have a responsibility for how you have treated others, how you have lived. And the standard for judging your actions is not you. It’s outside of you. And everybody knows instinctively that they have fallen short of the glory they were made for.

So for many, it’s simply unthinkable to believe in God, to believe in a Creator. It’s unthinkable because that would demand thinking certain thoughts that might lead to other conclusions that would eventually imply guilt and responsibility for that guilt. It’s easier to maintain a vague guilt, a vague notion of nobody’s-perfect, and all against the infinite void of evolutionary chaos, which keeps everything sufficiently blurred — we can’t be certain who’s really at fault, so don’t worry about it too much.

As it turns out there’s a pretty sizable army of these relativistic warriors at the moment. The universities are filled with English and Philosophy professors that function as the drill sergeants for this host of guilt-soothers. And the science labs serve up the mysteries, the sacraments of unbelief, insisting that students practice scientific methodologies without actually pressing them into the corners. Pretend the world is ordered. Pretend that logic is meaningful. Pretend that observable phenomena communicate the grace of certainty.

But not too much.

Don’t Ask

Don’t ask questions about where it all came from. Don’t ask about beauty. Pretend that the little baby in its mother’s womb is just a mass of protoplasm. It could be a tumor. And if you feel that you are a woman trapped inside a man’s body, that’s okay too. No matter that the only scientifically observable phenomenon is the fact that you’re a sexual predator. We will pass laws, and soon you will be able to use whatever locker room you like.

This is insanity, and that’s why faith has the upper hand. Faith is honest about the world. Choosing to believe the latest version of your pagan-approved science textbook, choosing to believe the high priests of atheism, choosing to believe in vague evolutionary relativism is choosing not to see, choosing not to think, choosing to ignore what is right there in front of everyone.

We don’t know which chapter of the story we’re in. We may have another fifty or two hundred years of this kind of cultural insanity. But be assured, we are not playing on equal footing. It’s not like we all squint into the void, and some of us believe in God and His Word and His way of life and some of us squint into the void and say it’s a lot more complex and muddled and who’s to say?

No, we’re not squinting into the void. We’re looking at waterfalls gushing with life. We’re watching the sun sink into a vast ocean, bleeding with beauty. We’re watching the magical glory of a woman, making another person inside of her.

A Fortress of Balloons

Which means the citadels of unbelief are a facade. We’re not up against a fortress of steel, we’re up against a fortress of balloons. And though they glare down at us through peer-reviewed spectacles, using words like ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ and ‘studies-show,’ we can pull out the thumbtack of faith.

Faith sees the world as it actually is. Faith sees the beauty. Faith sees the glory. Faith sees the art, the story, the goodness, and yes, faith sees the evil in the face of it all and knows that something has gone wrong and we have all become part of the problem.

But when the gospel comes, when Jesus comes, He isn’t talking about some other universe, some kind of alien heaven. He’s talking about this world. He’s talking about this beautiful place, and He’s come to forgive our sins, to heal the brokenness, to raise the dead, to restore the glory. And faith sees that. And that’s how faith overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).


Previous post from Toby J. Sumpter:

Toby J. Sumpter serves as a minister at Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho and is the author of the commentary Job Through New Eyes: A Son for Glory. He is married to Jenny and they have four children.