Friday, September 7

More from the same excerpt:

Yancey is writing about Christianity. The title of his new book is 'Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church'. He's keying off of GK Chesterton and his understanding of Christianity. Here's a sample:

Chesterton viewed this world as a sort of cosmic shipwreck. A person in search of meaning resembles a sailor who awakens from a deep sleep and discovers treasure strewn about, relics from a civilization he can barely remember. One by one he picks up the relics—gold coins, a compass, fine clothing—and tries to discern their meaning. Fallen humanity is in such a state. Good things on earth—the natural world, beauty, love, joy—still bear traces of their original purpose, but amnesia mars the image of God in us.

Additionally, Chesterton notes that Christianity is supposed to be joyful, and not because of denial. Rather, Christian joy should come from deep, unshakeable roots. If we've been turned off to faith by the church, chances are it's largely because that church/person is so joyless. You could even question whether a church/person is truly Christian if they don't have discernible joy in their life.

For Chesterton, and also for me, the riddles of God proved more satisfying than the answers proposed without God. I too came to believe in the good things of this world—first revealed to me in music, romantic love, and nature—as relics of a wreck, and as bright clues into the nature of a reality shrouded in darkness. God had answered Job's questions with more questions, as if to say the truths of existence lie far beyond the range of our comprehension. We are left with remnants of God's original design and the freedom, always the freedom, to cast our lots with such a God, or against him.


In addition to the problem of pain, G.K. Chesterton seemed equally fascinated by its opposite, the problem of pleasure. He found materialism too thin to account for the sense of wonder and delight that gives an almost magical dimension to such basic human acts as sex, childbirth, play, and artistic creation.

It struck me, after reading my umpteenth book on the problem of pain, that I have never seen a book on "the problem of pleasure." Nor have I met a philosopher who goes around in head-shaking perplexity over the question of why we experience pleasure. Yet it looms as a huge question—the philosophical equivalent, for atheists, to the problem of pain for Christians. On the issue of pleasure, Christians can breathe easier. A good and loving God would naturally want his creatures to exper ience delight, joy, and personal fulfillment. Christians start from that assumption and then look for ways to explain the origin of suffering. But should not atheists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness?


The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried


Chesterton readily admitted that the church had badly failed the gospel.


Along with Chesterton, I've had to take my place among those who acknowledge that we are what is wrong with the world. What is my snobbishness toward my childhood church, for instance, but an inverted form of the harsh judgment it showed me? Whenever faith seems an entitlement, or a measuring rod, we cast our lots with the Pharisees and grace softly slips away.
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