Sunday, May 2, 2010

A place to stand

At Christianity Today, John Ortberg suggests five books about faith and doubt. One of them I read quite some time ago. This is what he says about Elton Trueblood's A Place to Stand:
Trueblood points out what we so often miss: The modern deference given to doubt is neither necessary nor rational; we speak of "blind faith" and "honest doubt" when faith can also be honest and doubt can also be blind. He unpacks the core conviction of Christianity: that Christ was not wrong.
The book, unfortunately, has gone out of print. Two excerpts from my copy:
It is popular in some circles to accept Christ as a teacher, but not as one who provides a unique revelation of the Father. The familiar stance is one that involves admiring comments about Christ but denies any supernaturalism. Such a position, however, cannot be defended rationally, since all four Gospels bristle with supernatural claims on the part of Jesus. The person who takes this position has surely not read the Gospels! Familiarity has blinded men to the radical nature of Christ's claims about His peculiar relationship to the Father. Both C. S. Lewis and J. B. Phillips have performed a useful service in helping readers to see that the only alternative to acceptance of Christ's teaching about Himself is that He was either "a lunatic or a quack." "Now if He believed thus and spoke thus," writes Phillips, "and failed to rise from the dead, He was, without question, a lunatic. He was quite plainly a young idealist suffering from folie de grandeur on the biggest possible scale, and cannot on that account be regarded as the World's Greatest Teacher." The inescapable conclusion is that, if Christ was only a teacher, He was a very misleading teacher. [pp. 41-42]

.... The entire New Testament glows with the conviction that this life is not all and that our best personal experience, far from being ended by the death of the body, can be thereby brought to completion and fulfillment. The new faith is not expressed in isolated passages, but is found in both the Gospels and the Epistles. The most striking feature of Christ's own teaching on this subject is its unqualified and unequivocal confidence. The essence of His position is that, because God really is, and because the whole world, both present and future, is under His fatherly care, we shall be objects of His affection just as much after the death of the body as we were before. Because we could not be objects of His affectionate care if we were not alive, then those who love Him will continue to live. The heart will stop beating, but that it is only a minor incident. [pp. 110-111]
Elton Trueblood, A Place to Stand, Harper & Row, 1969.

My Top 5 Books on Doubt | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction