Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Belief and unbelief, according to Blaise Pascal

I marvel at the audacity with which some people presume to speak of God.  In giving their evidence to unbelievers, usually their first chapter is to prove the existence of God from the works of nature.  I would not be surprised about this project if they were addressing their arguments to believers, for those with living faith in their hearts can clearly see at once that everything that exists is entirely the work of God whom they worship.  But for those in whom this light has been extinguished and in whom we are trying to rekindle it, persons devoid of faith and grace, searching with all their light that which they see in nature that could lead them to this knowledge and finding only obscurity and darkness, shall I  say to them that they have only to look around, and they will see in the least of these things God plainly revealed?   To give them no other evidence of this great and important matter than the course of the moon and the planets and claim this as infallible proof is to give them reason to believe that the proofs of our religion are feeble indeed.   Reason and experience tell me that nothing is more likely to bring it into contempt in their sight.

But this is not how the Scripture speaks, with its better knowledge of the things of God.  On the contrary, it speaks of God as a hidden God, and because nature has been corrupted, he has left men to their blindness.  They can only escape from this through Jesus Christ, for without him all communication with God is severed.  “Neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whosoever the Son will reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).

This is what the Scriptures tell us when they say in so many places that those who seek God shall find him.  This is not the natural light of the noonday sun.  We do not argue that those who are looking for the sun at noonday or water in the sea will find it and that in the same way the evidence of God in nature is likewise.  It is not.  Rather it says, “Truly thou art a God that hidest thyself” (Isaiah 45:15).

If it is an evidence of weakness to prove God from nature, do not despise Scripture.  If it is an evidence of strength to recognize these contradictions, then respect Scripture for this.

It is a remarkable fact that no writer in the canon has ever used nature to prove the existence of God.  They all try to help people believe in him.  Neither David, nor Solomon, nor others ever said: “There is no such thing as a vacuum, therefore God exists.”  They must have been smarter than the smartest of their successors, all of whom have used proofs from nature.  This is most significant.

People despise Christian faith.  They hate it and are afraid that it may be true.

There is always enough light to illuminate the elect and enough obscurity to humble them.  There is enough obscurity to blind the reprobate and enough light to condemn them and deprive them of any excuse.

One of the things that will confuse the damned will be the recognition that they are condemned by their own reason, by that which they claimed to condemn the Christian faith.

To know God without knowing our own wretchedness only makes for pride.  Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes only for despair.   Knowing Jesus Christ provides the balance, because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness.

-selected from les pensées  of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

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