Reason and Rationalization

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We should be grateful to Freud for pointing out ways in which we humans deceive ourselves about our real motives. He suggested that many of our actions arise from very dark sources which we hide from ourselves . . . But the essence of what Freud said was suggested two and half thousand years before him when Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful about all things and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” . . .

Whenever I hear a man arguing against the existence of God, or simply brushing aside the very possibility, I want to say to him, “What are your feelings on the subject? Are you arguing to justify a conclusion your heart has already reached?” I want to probe further and ask why he has certain attitudes to God… I say to myself, “you are running away; you are making excuses to avoid the truth; you have a deceitful heart, so be honest.”

When people are brought face to face with Jesus, they either hide from him behind a hedge of rationalizations, or they come into the open and admit the truth. Caiaphas was a beautiful example. Pushed into a corner by Jesus’ behavior at his trial, faced with all that Jesus had said and done, he says “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” “I am”, said Jesus. “There you are”, said Caiaphas, in so many words, “the man must be a fraud. I have an excuse for all my hostility to the man. I disliked him all along because I knew he was a fraud and a madman. I was beginning to think I disliked him because he was right and I was wrong. But now I have a beautiful rationalization for all my opposition. I am really a very holy man who detests blasphemy and my righteous soul is revolted by such wickedness. What a relief to be a good man after all.” God does try the deceitfulness of men’s hearts by bringing them in front of Jesus. That is what the day of judgment will amount to: just being face to face with Jesus. When we see Him we shall find that all our excuses will vanish away and we shall find ourselves revealed for what we really are . . .

We discover that men actually hate God, particularly the ones who have most eagerly tired to explain Him away. That is why Jesus calls himself the Truth. He brings all our hidden attitudes into the open. He exposes the shams, the false support . . . There is no hiding from Him. He reveals the true reasons for our behavior — not our glib rationalizations.

–Peter Kimber,
The Witness

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The fearful consequence of suppressing the Truth

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God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

arrow_down_stickman_falling_400_clr_273728 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

–Apostle Paul,
Romans 1:18-35
J.B. Phillips New Testament

 

The Rage Against God

Peter HitchensI thought this gesture [burning the Bible] was a way of showing that I had finally rejected all the things that I had been brought up to believe, and I went on to behave for the next 20 years of my life exactly as if I didn’t believe in him [God], and that’s how I discovered in the end that what I had rejected was right.

The current intellectual assault on God in Europe and North America is, in fact, a specific attack on Christianity – the faith that stubbornly persists in the morality, laws, and government of the major Western countries. . . .The God they fight is the Christian God. . . .God is the leftists’ chief rival. Christian belief, by subjecting all men to divine authority and by asserting in the words ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism. . . . the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power.

…when it comes to the millions of small and tedious good deeds that are needed for a society to function with charity, honesty, and kindness, a shortage of believing Christians will lead to that society’s decay.

–Peter Hitchens,
The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith

There Is No Such Corner

Adam & Eve apple copy[Humanity] fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods—that they could cease directing their lives to their Creator and taking all their delights as uncovenanted mercies, as ‘accidents’ (in the logical sense) which arose in the course of a life directed not to those delights but to the adoration of God.

As a young man wants a regular allowance from his father which he can count on as his own, within which he makes his own plans (and rightly, for his father is after all a fellow creature), so they desired to be on their own, to take care for their own future, to plan for pleasure and for security, to have a meum [personal possession] from which, no doubt, they would pay some reasonable tribute to God in the way of time, attention, and love, but which, nevertheless, was theirs not His. They wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own.’

But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own.
They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.

—C. S. Lewis,
The Problem of Pain

The Art of God Avoidance

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One New Atheist motto says “There is no God and I hate Him.”

You hate someone who doesn’t exist?

That doesn’t make sense.

However . . . perhaps it makes perfect sense. This absurd statement could well be a most revealing one. Maybe the New Atheists have let the cat out of the bag, and we can now get down to the real issue.

What the God-deniers are saying is this: “I reject God. I don’t want Him in my world. I know He’s there, but I want nothing to do with Him. And, to ensure that He doesn’t interfere with my life, I will even deny that He exists. That makes it just a little bit easier to steer clear of God and to run my life just as I please.”

There’s an old word for this: subterfuge. It comes from a verb which means “to evade, escape, flee by stealth.” Avoidance by distraction. We are all good at playing that game, aren’t we?

And here it seems that the New Atheists are playing it. The God-deniers are telling us that they are, in fact, God-rejectors, and that the philosophical and scientific banter is really a smokescreen. The root issue is much deeper and more personal.

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We can all find plenty of reasons to reject God, but deep down there is one fundamental reason: We are rebels at heart. We harbor within us a deep-seated craving for self-autonomy. We don’t want God messing with our lives.

If we are honest, that’s what’s going on inside. It’s true of all of us.

Unfortunately, it’s a dead end street. A forever dead end.

Listen to Martin Luther: “It is the utmost stupidity for us to imagine that our cure lies in flight from God rather than in our return to God…”

The incredibly good news of the Gospel is that the God we run away from is the God who lovingly and patiently pursues us. His name is Jesus. He became human and died on a cross to destroy the lies we have believed and to bring us back.

When we finally lay down our arms, listen to His voice, and respond to His call, everything changes. Our life is flooded with light. The truth sets us free.

And we begin to discover that the Good News is better than we ever imagined.

–J. O. Schulz