OP SOEK NA DIE ONSIGBARE GOD (1)

Ek lees Philip Yancey se boek “Reaching for the invisible God.” Hy beskryf die boek as “undertaking a journey to know God.” Eintlik gaan die boek oor onsekerhede in die geloofslewe – twyfel, en dit gee my hoop. As ek met twyfel mag lewe, dan het ek hoop vir myself. Hy skryf met die doel om bietjie realisme te bring in die Christelike wêreld waar soms onrealistiese verwagtinge geskep word, en die wat nie inkoop op hierdie onrealistiese verwagtinge nie, word as kleingelowig of selfs sonder geloof beskryf. Wanneer ek ‘n kansie kry gaan ek ‘n paar parragrawe uit die boek hier kom plaas. Ek sou graag julle kommentaar wou hoor.

“I have lived most of my life in the evangelical Protestant tradition, which emphasizes personal relationship, and I finally decided to write this book because I want to identify for myself how a relationship with God truly works, not how it is supposed to work. The stance of the evangel­ical tradition — one person seeking God alone, without priests, icons, or other mediators — peculiarly fits the temperament of a writer. Although I may consult other sources and interview wise people, in the end I must sort things out in solitude, introspectively, with blank sheets of paper on which to record my thoughts. This creates its own hazards, for the Christian life is not meant to be lived by a person sitting alone all day thinking about the Christian life.

When I begin a book, I take up a machete and start hacking my way through the jungle, not to clear a trail for others, rather to find a path through for myself. Will anyone follow? Have I lost my way? I never know the answers to those questions as I write; I just keep swinging the machete.

That image is not quite accurate, however. In carving my path I am following a map laid out by many others, the who have preceded me. My struggles with faith have at least this in their favor: they come from a long, distinguished line. I find kindred expres­sions of doubt and confusion in the Bible itself. Sigmund Freud accused the church of teaching only questions that it can answer. Some churches may do that, but God surely does not. In books like Job, Ecclesiastes, and Habakkuk, the Bible poses blunt questions that have no answers.

As I investigate, I find that great saints also encountered many of the same roadblocks, detours, and dead ends that I experience and that my correspondents express. Modern churches tend to feature testimonies of spiritual successes, never failures, which only makes the strugglers in the pew feel worse. Books and videos likewise focus on the triumphs. Yet delve a bit deeper into church history and you will find a different story, of those who strain to swim upstream like spawning salmon.

In his Confessions Saint Augustine describes in pinpoint detail his slow awakening. “I wished to be made just as certain of things that I could not see, as I was certain that seven and three make ten,” he writes. He never found that certainty. This North African scholar in the fourth century contended with the same issues that plague Christians today: believing in the invisible and overcoming a nagging distrust of the church.

Hannah Whitall Smith, whose book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life beckoned millions of Victorian-era readers upward to a higher plane of living, never found much happiness herself. Her husband, a famous evangelist, concocted a new formula for ecstasy that satisfied spiritual longings with sexual thrills. Later, he drifted into a pattern of serial adul­tery and denied the faith. Hannah stayed with him, growing disillusioned and embittered. None of her children kept the faith. One daughter mar­ried the philosopher Bertrand Russell and became an atheist like her husband. Russell’s own depictions of his mother-in-law describe anything but a victorious woman.

Contemporary author Eugene Peterson attended in his adolescence a religious conference where people met by a lake each summer. They had fiery spiritual intensity and used phrases like “deeper life” and “second blessing.” As he watched these people’s lives, however, he noticed no continuity between the exuberance at the conference grounds and everyday life in town. “The mothers of our friends who were bitchy before were bitchy still. Mr. Billington, our history teacher, held in such veneration at the center, never relinquished his position in the high school as the most mean-spirited of all our teachers.”

I mention these failures not to dampen anyone’s faith but to add a dose of realism to spiritual propaganda that promises more than it can deliver. In an odd way the very failures of the church prove its doctrine. Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part. We in the church have humility and contrition to offer the world, not a formula for success. Almost alone in our success-oriented society, we admit that we have failed, are failing, and always will fail. The church in A.D. 3000 will be as rife with problems as the church in A.D. 2000 or 1000. That is why we turn to God so desperately.

The Christian has a great advantage over other men,” said C. S. Lewis, not by being less fallen than they, nor less doomed to live in fallen world, but by knowing that he is a fallen man in a fallen world.” That recognition forms my starting point in undertaking a journey to know God.”

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13 Kommentaar

Filed under Reaching for the Invisible God.

13 responses to “OP SOEK NA DIE ONSIGBARE GOD (1)

  1. 'n leser

    Twee van Yancey se opmerkings tref my:
    1. “Sigmund Freud accused the church of teaching only questions that it can answer. Some churches may do that, but God surely does not. In books like Job, Ecclesiastes, and Habakkuk, the Bible poses blunt questions that have no answers.”
    2. “Modern churches tend to feature testimonies of spiritual successes, never failures, which only makes the strugglers in the pew feel worse. Books and videos likewise focus on the triumphs.”
    Ons as gelowiges (mag) leef met onbeantwoorde woord.
    Alle getuienisse hoef nie net te gaan oor sukses en oorwinning nie.

  2. Alta

    Ek wens so ek kan vandag sterf en hemel toe gaan. Ek wens ek kan die God wat ons aanbid verstaan. Ek wens ek het geweet waarom Hy my geskep het. Sal ons alles verstaan as ons in die hemel kom??? Ek is so moeg vir hierdie aardse lewe. Sal God my straf omdat ek nie meer hier op aarde wil lewe nie???

  3. Alta: My hart is seer saam met jou vanoggend. Ek is bevrees dat ons nie genoeg ruimte laat vir mense wat voel soos jy voel nie. Ek sal nooit waag om te sê dat ek God ten volle verstaan nie, maar ek het ‘n baie sterk vermoede dat ons alles op die nuwe hemel en die nuwe aarde baie beter gaan verstaan – selfs alles gaan verstaan. Ek dink ook die Here verstaan wanneer ons in tydperke (Let wel nie oomblikke nie) van twyfel en moedeloosheid en desperaatheid en emosionele en fisiese uitputting nie meer kans sien vir die lewe Niemand weet wie jy is nie, wil jy nie dalk sê wat dit is wat jou vandag so moedeloos maak nie? Ek weet nie of iemand regtig raad het nie, maar dalk help dit as ons saamdra aan jou swaarkry las.

  4. Tiens

    We can love completely without understanding completely

  5. Tiens: Daardie woorde gaan ek onthou. Dink jy mens sou ook kon sê: We can believe (Let wel nie “completely” nie) without understanding completely?

  6. Attie

    Dink jy daar gaan ‘n AD3000 wees…?

    Geweldig baie Bybelse getuienisse dui daarop dat 21 Mei 2011 tot 21 Oktober 2011 na die laaste 5 maande van hierdie generasie lyk. Hierdie boodskap word tans wereldwyd via radio uitgesaai. As jy belangstel kan ek vir jou meer besonderhede aangaande die radiouitsendings in die aande gee…?

  7. johannes_11: Ek weet nie wanneer gaan die einde wees nie. Om die waarheid te sê, ek is ook nie baie bekommerd daaroor nie. Daar was al baie datums wat gekom en gegaan het. Ek kan my nie uitspreek oor of daar ‘n AD3000 gaan wees nie. As ek reg onthou het Jesus ook gesê dat net die vader daardie dag en datum ken.
    Wat ek wel weet is dat ek op 13 Februarie 2008 die voorreg het om te lewe met die wete dat die Here Jesus my vrygekoop het. Ek leef elke dag vir Hom. Elke oggend as ek wakker word, dan wonder ek “Is hierdie die dag waarop Jesus gaan terugkom?” Dan gaan leef ek daardie dag voluit. Vanaand as ek gaan slaap dan sê ek maar net weer: “Vandag was nie die dag nie. Dalk more?”

  8. willem

    Beste Attie

    Ek onthou hoe op Hoerskool, die skoolhoof/ onderwysers of hoofseun die Bybel sou gebruik om ons pakslae mee te gee: ons moet ons talente gebruik en daarom moet ons kom rugby speel ens ens ens. Alles sede lessies! Nooit verhouding met God nie. En wanneer jy opdaag dan is dit dieselfde onderwysers wat jou uitvloek en die naam van die Here gebruik as jy ‘n foutjie maak. Dit maak ons jongmense siek vir die Kerk – let wel die Kerk, nie vir God nie!
    Ek het al hoeveel vriende verloor wat nie meer kerk toe kom nie. Tog, kan ek ook vertel van somige “kriminele” (die skoolkinders wat destyds kattekwaad sou aanvang) – wat intussen ware ontmoetings met die Man van Nasaret gehad het! Dit het ek gesien met ons 10 jaar skool reunie. In hulle het ek ‘n kinderlike geloof opgetel wat my verstom het.
    Ek dink nie as Jesus hom aan mens openbaar dat jy skielik nooit meer deur probleme en krisisse gaan nie. Maar daar is ‘n groot verskil – my geloof en vertroue hang nie van my eie subjektiewe ervaringe af nie – dit is Hy wat my vashou al voel dit nie altyd so nie. My subjektiewe emosies kan dan ook nie as die barometer dien om te bepaal wat waar en onwaar is nie – of God daar is of nie.
    Ek dink dit was die bekende teoloog en kunstenaar Francis Shaeffer wat gese het: God has spoken, and He is not silent.
    Dis jammer dat mense soms in God se naam so hard praat dat Hy nie gehoor word nie. Mag God ons help om verby die seer en onreg wat ander in Sy naam aan ons gedoen het te kyk en iewers voor in die tonnel ‘n greintjie lig te sien – die Lig wat na die Wereld toe gekom het.

    Willem

  9. Attie, ek is bly jy lig hierdie boek uit. Dis werklik ‘n uistekende geestelike boek en was toevallig die eerste boek wat ek van Yancey gelees het. Sedertdien het ek al sy ander boeke ook verslind. Miskien is dit omdat hierdie man baie dink oor Christenskap, soos ek daaroor voel. Sy mees onlangse boek, “Prayer”, is werklik treffend en die moeite werd om te lees.

  10. Dankie BiB ek het ook ‘n hele paar gelees. Die volgende een wat ek gaan lees is Dissapointment with God.

  11. Willem: Ek moet weereens verskoning vra dat jou kommentaar as “spam” gereken is. Ek vra verskoning, maar ek het nie beheer daaroor nie. Ek deel jou gedagte dat mense siek raak vir die kerk en nie noodwendig vir God nie. Ek dink ook dat geloof soms beteken dat ek by mense se mislukkings verby moet kyk en die Koning van die kerk moet raaksien. Dit is juis een van die gedagtes van yancey wat my so aanspreek: “The Christian has a great advantage over other men,” said C. S. Lewis, not by being less fallen than they, nor less doomed to live in fallen world, but by knowing that he is a fallen man in a fallen world.” That recognition forms my starting point in undertaking a journey to know God.”
    Dankie vir jou deelname hier by die “blog”.

  12. Terug pieng: DIENSBAARHEID IS BLOOTSTELLING « Attie se koffietafel.

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