Sounds like there was a wonderful theology summit over the Atlantic recently, and I’ve been one of the beneficiaries. A three-way mind-meld of some of my current, long-distance mentors.
To lay down the task of proving God’s existence and activity in the world seems all at once a relief and a scary prospect. A relief, because I know and have known for a long time that I can’t prove anything, anyway. But scary, because I’ve long been told that this was exactly my raison d’etre.
The beginning of my embrace of mystery as it related to God and his intervention in the world came from an unlikely place: the charismatic church. This seems ironic to many of my friends, since their experience of people who lay on hands on people and pray for healing is of people who have weird hair (I’m guilty here) and wacked theology (okay, but not really wacked). Yet the particular tribe to which I belonged was fairly consistent about allowing God some serious latitude– it was our job to pray and to ask and to hope (and maybe even to humbly-yet-hopefully expect) some intervention, and it was God’s job to– in God’s timing and wisdom– decide whether or not to act. So we would pray for some stuff, and see some amazing answers. And we would fairly beg for other things, and see nothing. It is a fair amount of work to live this way– I know because I’m not exactly as disciplined as I once was– but it was exciting and adventurous, too.
When pressed by friends to explain or defend this strange stuff, I have learned to demur and to simply describe my subjective experience: I’ve seen what I can honestly describe as minor miracles, and I’ve had my biggest, boldest, and most desperate prayers answered with silence and death. The question that remains for me is not some cosmic solution to the puzzle or meta-apologetical proof, but a much more personal and subjective one: what will I do with this? I have experienced love– in the miracles and in the silence. What about that? How will I respond to that?
That God exists is something which I cannot prove. I guess I’ve known this for awhile– certainly since taking apologetics in college (even our professor, the venerable Kenneth Kantzer explained this on the first day, though he still made us read Josh McDowell over against our repeated protests), and haven’t done a lot of work to build some ready defense of my possibly foolish choice to live as if God does exist. What my three theological friends seem to be suggesting is something I’ve been afraid to say: that trying to prove the existence of God is something I shouldn’t do. It’s a waste of time and a waste of the life that God (probably) gave me.