Clinging to a Cement Wall

Ive heard it said that our faith is not in one proposition or another but in Jesus. I understand the intent behind this comment, I think I have probably said it, and I think there is some truth to it, but at the same time it can have the effect of making faith impossibly mystical and slippery and a source of real frustration.

Faith needs a proposition – something to be true or false.

Sir Robert Anderson writes of the massive cement piers on the Thames used to unload ships. Each of the piers has a chain on the end for a person who has fallen into the water to grasp. Otherwise, it is possible for a person to drown at the very edge of the pier, even as they try to cling to the cement wall. The drowning person needs a chain, something that can be grasped in the hand and with this they can climb onto the pier. In much the same way, putting ones faith in ‘God’ or in ‘Christ’ in a general sense is like trying to cling to a cement wall. God gave the Israelites symbols and ceremonies that were graspable to the hand of faith. In the same way we have the message contained in the Gospel, a message that contains real propositions… (cf. 1 Corin 15:3,4)

“The faith that ‘comes by hearing,’ brings us salvation and the knowledge of salvation. The faith that springs from abiding in Him and acquainting ourselves with Him, is the secret of a peaceful heart and a holy life. ” R. Anderson, The Gospel and Its Ministr

I think that there is more of an emphasis today on faith in the sense of knowing a person to the exclusion of faith in a proposition. But this is like putting the batter behind the pitcher. Although he’s on second base, there is no chance of making it to third. (although I guess he could steal a base… ok, maybe that was a bad illustration)

But are we forcing youth in our churches to cling to a cement wall?

2 thoughts on “Clinging to a Cement Wall”

  1. I think a good starting point is what Paul considered to be of first importance when he spoke to the Corinthians,

    …that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

    I guess if I had to narrow it down to just one proposition, I would go back to the question Jesus asked Mary as she mourned the death of her brother,

    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

    “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” John 11:25-28

    Everything written in the past by the prophets leads us to the answer of that question. And there is real hope here… the grave doesn’t have the last word.


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