LZ Granderson, a member of Rob Bell’s church and a regular contributor to CNN and ESPN, wrote a column today for CNN.com which illustrates the problem that I try to correct in the first two chapters of Christ Alone.
There is a lot that I could say about Granderson’s piece, but I’ll focus on this paragraph:
“One of the biggest problems with religion in general, and evangelical Christianity in particular, is the claim of having definitive answers about an infinite being. But true faith does not require us to have all of the answers.”
Did you notice the leap from “having definitive answers” to having “all of the answers”? I don’t know anyone who claims to “have all of the answers” when it comes to God. I agree with Granderson’s later statement that “If we could figure God out, he wouldn’t be that impressive.”
But why should humbly claiming that we don’t “have all of the answers” cause us to concede that we don’t have any “definitive answers about an infinite being”? If the Bible is God’s revelation, then we do possess accurate—though not comprehensive—knowledge of who God is and what he has done. To claim that we don’t is not humility but actually arrogance.
It is arrogant to come to the Bible with our minds already made up about what a loving God must do, and then seek to dismiss or question away those biblical passages which don’t fit our preconceived notions. For all of their protests about the arrogance of conservatives, it is actually theological liberals who lead the way in cramming God into their finite boxes. Contra Granderson, it is a problem to question the existence of heaven and hell, not because we need them as “the only reason to seek [God’s] face,” but because God has told us about them in Scripture. To pretend otherwise is not exactly what God would call humility.
I agree with Granderson that God is mysterious, but I am thankful that God has not left us in the dark. Unlike Granderson, who claims that “it is within the bosom of doubt that my faith in God is nourished,” I find that my faith is nourished when it feeds upon God’s revelation. I’m not dismissing the benefits of doubt, but only insisting that the whole point of doubt and asking questions is to drive us to God’s revelation.
So let’s agree to humbly submit to God’s revelation, and believe whatever the Bible says about “heaven, hell, and the fate of everyone who has ever lived.”
Update: I was talking to a member of the “secular” media a few hours ago, and after the interview we were talking about these issues some more, and he asked the penetrating question, “How do you know it’s true?” I briefly described the self-authenticating nature of Scripture and our dependence on the Spirit’s witness, and I realized again how utterly inadequate we are to discuss these matters. We both agreed that the foundational dividing line is between those who believe the Bible is God’s revelation and those who don’t.