Friday, April 20, 2007

Proving God

Robert Linthicum shares part of his testimony in his book “Building a People of Power: Equipping Churches to Transform their Communities.” I will share a few more items from his book as I continue reading, but his encounter with a missionary at an Episcopal church in 1950 when he was a thirteen year old atheist, is worth sharing.

The missionary spoke. His topic was “How You Can Know There is a God.” I expected a philosophical argument. What I got was something entirely different.

The missionary held up a chair and said, “I could present you with an esoteric argument for the existence of God and it might convince you that an object named ‘God’ exists in the universe – just as this chair exists. But what would I have accomplished by such an argument? I would have simply convinced you that there is an object in this universe we call ‘God’ just as there is an object in the universe we call ‘chair.’”

‘But,” he continued, “God is not an object like this chair to be proved. God is a person to be known, loved and experienced, and he is experienced in the man Christ Jesus. Think of a person whom you know and who loves you. Think of the person sitting next to you. You know him or her. Bu how do you know that person? Do you have to have that person’s existence proven to you? Of course not! And why not? Simply because you experience that person everyday in your life, and that person is already very real to you.”

Then he brought it home. ‘Well, just as this person is one you experience and love, so God in Christ is a person you can experience in your everyday life. And once you have experienced him and come to know him, you no longer need to have his existence proven to you. And why? Because you already know him.”

That did it! This missionary had presented an argument for the existence of God I couldn’t deny. To meet and experience God is to know God. But to refuse to experience him would mean that to have his existence proven to me would be meaningless – because even though I might know about him, I wouldn’t know him.

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