A Personal Response
While I’m still in the reflection mode occasioned by a new year and a trip through my journals, I’ve been thumbing through a few of the books that I was reading and reflecting upon in my younger years. Lesslie Newbigin was a writer and a thinker that was immensely helpful to me as I was beginning to negotiate such themes as the uniqueness of Christianity, the nature and limits of reason and faith, and the shape of discipleship. Newbigin’s books were a gift then, and they remain so today.
Among these was a little volume called Proper Confidence where I made note of this passage on faith and certainty a decade or so ago:
We are not speaking of a blind leap into darkness but of a personal response to a personal calling. When Jesus called the first disciples with the words: “Follow me,” he was certainly calling for an act of faith. He certainly did not offer any demonstrable certainties. And so it is with everyone who has been so called through the faithfulness of the first apostles and their successors.
To regard this as cognitively inferior to the rational demonstration of supposedly certain truths is to assume that the ultimate reality with which we have to deal is not personal but impersonal. In the investigation of impersonal realities we may ask for the kind of indubitable certainties that the Age of Reason demanded, even though subsequent history has shown that they are not attainable. But if the ultimate reality with which, or rather with whom, we have to deal is the being of the triune God, then the response of personal faith to a personal calling is the only way of knowing that reality. To rule this out as unreasonable is to make an a priori decision against the possibility that ultimate reality is personal.