A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
If I may be allowed, I'd like to paraphrase Saint Paul (I believe it was) who said: "Faith is the belief in things not seen." What Paul actually said is this: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Therein, I think, is the problem for the Christian religion today. Even the evangelicals are beginning to lose their way.
We live in a time dominated by science, which has made huge advancements in practically every field of science man can think of -- or devise. One could argue , I think, that modern man has shifted his reliance off God and onto science. This is a scenario not unlike those I used to read in science fiction books as a lad.
Man (the human species) rebelled against his creator from the beginning choosing the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil over the protection and guidance of his Maker. It was man's downfall then and it continues to be our downfall today -- driving us farther and farther away from our true salvation and into the arms of a counterfeit god -- science.
This presents a near insurmountable problem for the human animal -- how to sustain faith in things not seen and yet rely on science to provide the proof of those very same things.
It is an impossible dream. And it is a dream that has been a nightmare for man, a nightmare which he refuses to recognize and from which he refuses to awaken.
There has been a theory for centuries now that like matter and anti-matter science and faith are explosive when in the same environment. There is no room in science for faith. He who chooses science forsakes faith. He must, for they cannot coexist in the context of religion. I think that theory is flat-out wrong!
As a young man, I had the great experience of helping found two churches. The first from the ground up -- literally. We few who began the church met on Sunday mornings in a wooded lot on the outskirts of town. We had worship services out in the open -- the greatest of all cathedrals.
Then the membership built a small wooden building which served as the sanctuary. Even the pews were made from unpainted pine two by fours. They were uncomfortable, but serviceable. It took years of hard work and dedication but now that church is one of the largest congregations in town with a beautiful brick and mortar building to rival any in the city. But I doubt many of its members today have any inkling of its humble beginnings.
The second was a Lutheran church that was begun in the living room of my home. This time we had loans and grants to get us off the ground and chartered. One of the proudest moments of my life was the Sunday morning my wife and I signed the church charter and became "charter members."
Both these churches were possible because men and women of faith saw a need and sought to fill that need with faith in the evidence of those unseen things Saint Paul spoke of thousands of years ago.
Today, I no longer attend church -- at all. Frankly, I became disgusted with the leftist agenda introduced by the hierarchy of the church into what had been a community of faith whose belief were summed up by the Great Commission of Christ and the Apostle's Creed.
Soon, however, the Marxist doctrine of social justice was pushing out the worship of God and replacing it with the worship of the political leftist agenda, including the pagan worship of the earth and nature rather than the earth's creator and nature's God. It became, in my opinion, apostate, and I had no choice but to follow St. Paul's advice to Timothy to "come out from among them." And I did.
Understand. I did not leave The Church. I am right where I have always been in my relationship with God. The church left me -- because I refused to compromise my religious belief, my religious faith, and accept the counterfeit belief that rendering unto Caesar and rendering unto God are one and the same thing.
The mainline denominations, especially, forsook the faith in exchange for politics and science.
I was not, and am not, alone. Thousands left, as well, from many denominations when they realized that the emptiness they felt at the close of the worship services was a hunger for the things of God that were no longer provided in those houses formerly erected for specifically that purpose.
The Christian faith has been under attack since Jesus Christ delivered His very first sermon. Today, however, the attack is far more subtle than just feeding the lions. In many ways, it is far more sinister and, indeed, vastly more effective.
The various "liberation theologies," the scientific approach to the scriptures, the insistence that the Christian faith embrace "social justice" as the work of the church, are seductive -- and like a black hole they suck into them those floundering around desperately seeking something to believe in.
I submit that if the modern Christian churches were fulfilling their mission, this would not be happening -- at least to the degree it is today.
While I'm at it, lets get something clear. Jesus was not a Communist nor a Marxist. And He certainly was not black. He was a Jew -- a practicing Jew.
Have you ever wondered -- if Jesus visited your town this weekend, which church he would attend? He wouldn't. He'd go to the local synagogue.
We have distanced ourselves so far from the specificity of the scriptures and the reality of the world as it was over two thousand years ago that we have lost sight of what was/is real.
Man comes into this world hard-wired with a yearning for God. And when he cannot find Him, he creates a god. Unfortunately, he creates a god in his own image ... the image of man. And that god fails -- every time -- to fill the void in the yearning soul.
So we create religions and cults that are based on the likes and desires of mankind and not on the infallible truths of the one and only Creator of mankind. It's as if rather than going to the one lit candle in a darkened room we fight for our little piece of the darkness. It is madness. And madness begets madness.
Even when the ferocity of hurricane winds sweep through our darkness that candle continues to burn brightly, not threatened by the darkness, not threatened by the winds, and not threatened by us. It is steady, bright, warm, and ever present.
Because we do not know what unseen hand placed that candle in the blackness of our lives we dare not approach. We fight the urge to gravitate to its warmth.
To accept the brightness, the warmth, the welcome of that candle, we have to accept that someone, unseen, placed it there to provide comfort for us in our darkened peril. That acceptance is our salvation. The belief in things unseen. That candle is the evidence of things unseen. A power greater than ourselves.
We call that "faith" and there is precious little left in mankind any more.
Everything we have, everything we are, everything we may become, can all be swept away in an instant into the black nothingness -- save for those who have faith in the unseen hand that placed that light in their darkness.
I have often thought that man's salvation would have been easier to accept had there been a price tag attached. But then I remember -- there was a price. It was a price so great no mere mortal could ever pay.
It is offered to man pre-paid -- because Christ picked up the tab some two thousand years ago on a desolate, wind swept, knoll just outside the walls of a city named Jerusalem in a place we call Israel today. He died there from torture. Seventy-two hours later, Christians believe, he walked out of his formerly sealed tomb and sealed the deal between man and their God. From that day forward nothing would come between man and his God, not even death -- except, of course, things that man, himself, placed there.
We've been building obstructions ever since. All, too often, I believe, we use science as a major obstruction.
Look. I believe God created the heavens and the earth. I simply don't care if it was six 24-hour days or six thousands-of-years-long days. It doesn't matter.
There really are questions for which man has no answer and will NEVER have an answer.
But we have faith.
Whatever happened to faith? It's still here, though fewer and fewer lay claim to it today. We are told in the biblical account of the "end-time" that the faithful will have been whittled down to only a remnant -- just a few remaining. With the rapidity with which the faithful are diminishing today one must wonder if the true end-time has accelerated its approach.
I have learned that with advancing years it is not necessarily true that men grow wiser. Turns out -- it's optional. There is a direct correlation between wisdom and faith, I think. The wise man should never abandon his faith and the man of faith should never refuse an increase in wisdom.
Science should never be an impediment to faith. Science, in its purest form, is merely a search for wisdom. Faith is the acceptance that there exists a wisdom far superior to ours, which is responsible for that seed of yearning for knowledge of the unknown, the unseen, and ultimately -- for our very existence.
I have no problem with that. You see, I have faith.
J. D. Longstreet