“Take away from the church the miraculous, the supernatural, the incomprehensible, the unreasonable, the impossible, the unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a vacuum remains.” Robert G Ingersoll.
Who on earth is Robert G Ingersoll I hear you ask? I had to know too – given that I found the quote on an “atheist” Facebook page.
Let me back up a bit – a family member had commented on a post with an attached picture. I followed the link from that, and ended up looking at a bunch of posts from people who don’t believe in God, and are happy to mock anyone who does.
Then I came across this post. Turns out Ingersoll was an American lawyer in the 19th Century, noted for his broad range of culture and defence of agnosticism.
So here is a man, who believes that “nothing is known or can be known about the existence of God” giving what I believe is one of the most accurate descriptions of what the Church should be like, that I have read in a long time. (Cavieat- when I say “the Church” I’m mean the church generally, not my church specifically, your church specifically. If however, the cap fits………..)
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that programme is worthless. I’m not saying that kids work, or men’s ministry, or ladies meetings aren’t worthwhile and important for building relationships, introducing non- church to church in a non threatening way and generally doing life together.
But if we do all that at the expense of the supernatural, the unreasonable, the unknowable, the incomprehensible and the frankly absurd then we have missed the point.
You see, Jesus said that we would do the works that He had done, in fact we would do greater things than He had done. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him and asked for healing. Jesus raised the dead. Jesus released people from demonic power. Jesus understood where people were at, and met them there.
How often do we sit back and thank God that we have a great programme, but forget that we haven’t even begun to do the things Jesus did, let alone greater things.
Are you satisfied with that?
I know I’m not.
I love it when Jesus steps in to a situation which is frankly impossible and changes it to possible. I love it when really really clever people pronounce a prognosis and Jesus steps in to the situation and does something which makes no sense whatsoever.
I guess my question is – if an agnostic can see that the church is powerless without Holy Spirit – why can’t the Church see it?
We are so concerned with dotting all he “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s” that we have forgotten the wonder of the unknown. We are so caught up in our need to ensure that no one is offended, that the absurd has no place in our meetings anymore.
We spend endless meetings and sub meetings discussing things that don’t really matter, and Father would have us step out in faith, trusting the impossible to Him.
When I look at the example of Jesus, when I read Acts, and see what the 1st Century church was like and I compare it to the Church today they are poles apart.
When did we removing the important things, and replacing it with a vacuum of nothing??
Crucially , how do we remove the vacuum and get the important things back?
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14