Thoughts of a Christian agnostic

2004-10-07 12:47

I kid you not, this is a FAQ. I have been asked this question no less than ten times since I got here, probably twenty or more. I’ve been asked by moderators, by other members. I’ve had posts deleted from Christians-only forums by well-meaning staff.

So.

From the top, using the most recent version as a template:

They asked why you post on the Christian side and answer Christian questions when you describe yourself as a “militant agnostic Christian” (a contradiction in terms huh?: )

Could you please explain what you mean by that for us, because it is difficult to reply to give an adequate response one way or the other until we understand.

Okay, let’s break it down into words. (Thanks to dictionary.com for the citations.)

1. Militant.
mil-i-tant adj. 1. Fighting or warring. 2. Having a combative character; aggressive, especially in the service of a cause: a militant political activist.

I am using sense 2 of this word; I am aggressive in my beliefs.

2. Agnostic.

Word History: An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist. The term agnostic was fittingly coined by the 19th-century British scientist Thomas H. Huxley, who believed that only material phenomena were objects of exact knowledge. He made up the word from the prefix a-, meaning “without, not,” as in amoral, and the noun Gnostic. Gnostic is related to the Greek word gnsis, “knowledge,” which was used by early Christian writers to mean “higher, esoteric knowledge of spiritual things” hence, Gnostic referred to those with such knowledge. In coining the term agnostic, Huxley was considering as “Gnostics” a group of his fellow intellectuals — “ists,” as he called them — who had eagerly embraced various doctrines or theories that explained the world to their satisfaction. Because he was a “man without a rag of a label to cover himself with,” Huxley coined the term agnostic for himself, its first published use being in 1870.

I am agnostic. I do not have knowledge.

3. Christian.

I believe the site’s definition of Christian covers the normal points. (The site uses the Nicene Creed as a definition of “Christian”.)

Now, some people would ask how you could be a Christian if you don’t know God exists. How indeed? Perhaps the Bible has some insights for us:

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

If I had seen, I would know. I have not seen; I do not know. I have faith. Is it acceptable to have faith in things you admit to not being totally sure of? How does Jesus describe the relationship between what you have seen, and what you have believed?

John 20:29

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Apparently, a willingness to have faith beyond your certainty can be a good thing.

Do we see clearly? Do we know the truth in fullness?

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

We do not yet see fully.

We admit our failings, our doubts; only when we admit these shortcomings can we hope to overcome them, to progress beyond them.

No one has faith in the presence of a cat, or the pain of a bee sting. These are things we experience, that we know. There is no faith there. Doubt is not the absence of faith; doubt is the context of faith.

To quote a man much wiser than myself, Real Live Preacher:

Not so. People who doubt can have great faith because faith is something you do, not something you think. In fact, the greater your doubt the more heroic your faith.

I learned that it doesn’t matter in the least that I be convinced of God’s existence. Whether or not God exists is none of my business, really. What do I know of existence? I don’t even know how the VCR works.

What does matter is whether or not I am faithful. I think faithful is a hell of a good word. It still has some of its original shine. It still calls us to action.

Once I stumbled upon this very old truth, I prayed the most honest prayer of my life.

God, I don’t have great faith, but I can be faithful. My belief in you may be seasonal, but my faithfulness will not. I will follow in the way of Christ. I will act as though my life and the lives of others matter. I will love.

I have no greater gift to offer than my life. Take it.

This, then, is faith. Not empty and soulless intellectual assent to a series of claims, considered in a vacuum, but the commitment to live the life Jesus called us to, whether or not we ever have the easy confidence so many rely on.

Peter Seebach

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Comments

  1. Getting into trouble again, I see!

    — seebs_lawyer · 2004-10-07 20:55 · #

  2. To whome it may concern...

    I, a christian, am in a very close, loving relationship with an agnostic. He is the love of my life, but I know, that according to Christianity, an agnostic person is going to hell? I love him so much and he always supports me in everything I do, but I cannot help he may go to hell b/c I do believe in the Trinity and heaven.And I do believe these things b/c of the Bible, even if people say it's been re-written copious times. I just believe we are not put on this earth for no reason. Some people say answers prayers is just luck. Well, what is luck? Good luck/bad luck? I'm stuck, b/c I don't want to leave him for a serious issue like this. Please, I need some advice? Help.

    — Lauren · 2006-07-09 16:15 · #

  3. Dear Lauren,
    If you are still reading this, relationship are very hard to get into and it's very complicated enough as it is. But if your guy is willing to compromise and respect your belief on religion grounds then you should have no problem. Don't try to change him or youself cause that's not what relationship is all about. It's all about give and take as well as willing to try to understand each other. There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. God has given us a special gift called free will. I pray for your happiness and success. God Bless You.

    — Michelle · 2007-02-07 08:26 · #

 
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