Contend Earnestly: The Personal God Gives Us Meaning

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Personal God Gives Us Meaning

I have been reading a lot of Schaeffer these past 3 weeks and am about to finish up my third book by him in that time. I can now see why so many have pointed me to him in the past. He was truly before his time, yet spoke truth to those in his time as well. I want to give another quote of Schaeffer in regards to why the personal God of the Christian gives us meaning, unlike the impersonal god of the deist, or impersonal science in regards to the atheist or secular humanist. This quote comes off the heals of him showing the dilemma of a personal human coming out of an impersonal naturalistic science. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

So now let us think what it means to begin with that which is personal. This is the very opposite of beginning with the impersonal. That which is personal began everything else. In this case man, being personal, does have meaning. This is not abstract. Many of the people who come to L'Abri would not become Christian if we did not discuss in this area. Many would have turned away, saying, "You don't even know the questions." These things are not abstract, but have to do with communicating the Christian gospel in the midst of the twentieth century.

At times I get tired of being asked why I don't just preach the "simple gospel." You have to preach the simple gospel so that it is simple to the person to whom you are talking, or it is no longer simple. The dilemma of modern man is simple: he does not know why man has any meaning. He is lost. Man remains a zero. This is the damnation of our generation, the heart of modern man's problem. But if we begin with a personal and this is the origin of all else, then the personal does have meaning, and man and his aspirations are not meaningless. Man's aspirations to the reality of personality are in line with what was originally there and what has always intrinsically been.

It is the Christian who has the answer at this point - a titanic answer! So why have we as Christians gone on saying the great truths in ways that nobody understands? Why do we keep talking to ourselves, if men are lost and we love them? Man's damnation today is that he can find no meaning for man, but if we begin with the personal beginning we have an absolutely opposite situation. We have the reality of the fact that personality does have meaning because it is not alienated from what has always been , and what is, and what always will be. This is our answer, and with this we have a solution not only to the problem of existence of bare being and its complexity - but also for man's being different, with a personality which distinguishes him from non-man.

We may use an illustration of two valleys. Often in the Swiss Alps there is a valley filled with water and an adjacent valley without water. Surprisingly enough, sometimes the mountains spring leaks, and suddenly the second valley begins to fill up with water. As long as the level of water in the second valley does not rise higher than the level of the water in the first valley, everyone concludes that there is a real possibility that the second lake came from the first. However, if the water in the second valley goes thirty feet higher than the water in the first valley, nobody gives that answer. If we begin with a personal beginning to all things, then we can understand that man's aspiration for personality has a possible answer.

If we begin will less than personality, we must finally reduce personality to the impersonal. The modern scientific world does this in its reductionism, in which the word personality is only the impersonal plus complexity. In the naturalistic scientific world, whether in sociology, psychology or in the natural sciences, a man is reduced to the impersonal plus complexity.

Francis Schaeffer, He is There and He is Not Silent


Unknown said...

schaeffer synopsis is very personal... to everyone... and anyone that can go beyond science or rather disect themselves before the science ..... thanks , have to do a little research on that author...

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