23 April 2015

"I'm just going to trust God"

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in October 2010. Dan discussed popular notions of trusting God, and why they are unBiblical.

As usual, the comments are closed.
It is a pretty good hermeneutical principle that the first occurrence of a major concept controls and informs subsequent Biblical occurrences. I think that holds in this case, where faith makes its first appearance in Genesis 15:1-6.

What are the essential elements? There are only two:
  1. An explicit word from God
  2. Believing embrace of that word
So that is what faith is: it is trusting an explicit word from God. We could say a lot more about it, but we must say at least that much, and shouldn't let ourselves stray far from it.

The related word trust is not fundamentally different, except that it emphasizes the element of dependence on the truth, leaning and relying on it. But it still is directed towards the Word (Psalm 119:42), and the truth it reveals.

Other similar statements are simply shorthand for the same idea. For instance, when David sings, "O my God, in you I trust" (Psalm 25:2), we must understand this in the background. David isn't saying, "God, I have great self-esteem, and I've plunged myself into the Cloud of Unknowing, listening in the mystic stillness for that still small voice." Such thought would have been foreign to him, repellant. Rather, he is saying in effect "I know what Scripture says about You to be true, and I rest my full weight on it."

So let's move to the bottom-line. This whole area of faith and trust provides yet more rich and verdant pastureland for Christianoid nonsense. Like other pious nonsense phrases ("The Lord told me...."), we're supposed to just grunt and nod piously. We certainly shouldn't ask questions.

But I think we should ask questions. I think we must.

In this case, it really isn't rocket-science. I just don't (and never have) seen Biblical Christianity as a "Get-out-of-thinking" ticket. Quite the reverse; I think Christians who practice their professed faith are hard, rigorous thinkers. Have to be.

So in this particular, two questions. Just two simple, straightforward, perfectly-Biblely questions. To wit:
  1. For what?
  2. On what specific Biblical basis?
Let's apply.

Suppose you seminarians "trust" me to write your theses for you. Or you husbands "trust" me to teach your sons for you. Or you pastors "trust" me to compose your sermons for you. I suppose that I could do those things, you know. I have the ability.

So what's missing?

Well, what's missing of course is that I have neither offered nor promised to do any of those things for you. You have no grounds, no basis for that "trust." So the concept of "trusting" me to do something I never said I'd do — well, it's just absurd and silly. You would end up looking ridiculous.

Or not? Suppose a nightmare Bizarro world, where everyone imagined that I was obliged to come through for everyone who concocted some scheme, and then committed me to it in absentia. Why, in that case, I would just look more and more pathetic as people across the globe announced things they were "trusting" me for, and I kept failing to deliver, over and over again.

It could ruin my good name, my reputation, if people were lazy and sloshy-minded enough not to think through what "trust" implies and assumes. 

For yourself, don't shame the name of God by broadcasting that you are "trusting" him for things He has not specifically promised (the in-this-life healing of an ill loved one, the numeric growth of a church, the salvation of a friend or child). Do glorify Him for trusting Him in those areas where he has left us precious promises — such as trusting the utter sufficiency of His word for all of Christian life (2 Timothy 3:15-17). 

For others, when you hear someone say that (s)he is "trusting God" for X, just nicely ask two questions.

You know which two.