Threads from Henry's Web

Thoughts on biblical studies, religion, and living from a passionate moderate, liberal charismatic Christian

Believing Impossible Things

In Alice in Wonderland, the queen says that sometimes she has believed six impossible things before breakfast. A fair number of years ago, someone told me that in response to points of my Christian faith. The aim was most likely to shock or offend me.

How did I respond? I don’t recall what I said. It wasn’t terribly memorable. But I do know what I thought. Yes, indeed, I do believe a number of impossible things before breakfast, not to mention after breakfast as well. I have never understood the desire to make so many of the very difficult aspects of the Christian faith as rational as possible. If God can be explained rationally within the incredibly tiny sphere of my personal knowledge, there’s really no point. That’s a mini-god.

Now I don’t mean here that all aspects of religious faith are irrational. There are things I believe that can be rationally explained. Various arguments for the existence of God can, for example, open up a crack through which some light may shine. The arguments of a historian may create a place in which a virgin birth, or a resurrection might just be hinted at as an explanation for so many things.

But I believe in a God who created the universe. I was thinking the other day while I gazed at a picture of galaxies seen from the Hubble Telescope in a part of space that looked empty to the naked eye. The space was filled. Now it’s not entirely impossible to suggest that this was created by someone or something. But when you add to that the idea that the entire universe was created by Someone who actually cares about anything that happens to me, you are proposing something patently impossible. If you claim it is possible, other than in one’s imagination, I suspect you of not really comprehending just how far that is out of the boundaries of comprehension.

As we come up to Easter, we will commemorate a God who became flesh, lived here, and ultimately permitted himself to be tortured and killed. I believe that happened. If you try to reply to that problem with the doctrine of the trinity, let me note that you have responded to an apparent physical impossibility with a logical impossibility, the idea that one person can really be three, and three can be one.

Yet I believe all of those things. I have disappointed not a few people when I decline to try to make all these beliefs rational. The incarnation (a person being 100% God [whatever we mean by that] and 100% human at the same time) is both a logical and, should we be able to figure out what would be involved, would doubtless also be a physical impossibility.

People who believe all these things can certainly also believe in a great number of truly rational and reasonable things. I believe in the laws of nature and live my life largely in accordance with them. (Some of that health stuff is overcome by my general desire to enjoy life!) I find often that I agree to a large extent with those who do not believe in God on matters of ethics, politics, and as far as it applies to daily life, rational interaction with the universe.

But I still believe that God, one capable of creating all those galaxies, well past my imagination already in the physical universe, also, as one member of the trinity (three in one!) became flesh (100% divine and 100% human), died, and was rose again from the dead.

The same God also notices when a sparrow falls.

Six impossible things before breakfast?


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