A guy comes to Jesus with a son who is ill saying he can’t heal him. Jesus actually scolds the man. It isn’t very nice. Jesus says, “You unbelieving generation.”
But I kind of like what Jesus is actually doing.
Our tendency is not to admit that we choose not to trust God, but rather insist that we don’t have enough information to decide whether or not to trust God. It’s a bit disingenuous. We like to claim to be agnostic, from the Greek prefix a-, meaning “against” or “without,” and gnosis, which means “knowledge.” What Jesus accuses us of being is apistos, which is “without belief.”
When we claim to be agnostic, we are hedging our bets. We are imagining that there will be some grand trial at the gates of heaven at which the Lord will say, “Why didn’t you believe and obey?” And we will say, “Well you didn’t really give me enough information upon which to make a reasoned decision.” And the Lord will say, “Oh, yeah. My bad.”
See, that trial isn’t going to happen, just fyi.
Because the burden of belief isn’t on God, who has already done enough. The burden of belief is on us, who have sufficient reason to believe.
Honestly, a-gnosis in the Information Age? Learn to Google.
In the end, I just don’t believe that there is such a thing as an agnostic. I don’t have enough information upon which to decide whether or not there are agnostics. I don’t think agnosticism is a viable position, at least not for very long. Here’s why.
In his “On the Heavens,” Aristotle suggests that no human being could stand between food and drink and die of both thirst and starvation, due to the fact that he could not decide which drive was stronger. Jean Buridan picked up the illustration in the modern age and suggested that it was impossible for a mule trapped equidistant from two equally delicious bails of hay to starve to death. The agnostic is in the same place. The agnostic stands perfectly balanced between on the one hand the promise that he was created intentionally, that his life has purpose, that one day he will stand before his maker and give and account of his life, and on the other hand the idea that he is completely free in an empty, accidental universe. I just don’t think you can stand there for very long. The needs and desires of the human heart are far too strong for that.
We live in a broken world in which we lose our children to death and to bad decisions, we lose our marriages, we lose our jobs, we struggle for meaning and purpose. In the end, you’re not going to stay perfectly undecided on something as big as whether or not your life has meaning. You’re either going to live like God is really there, or you’re going to live as though he’s not. The mere fact that we do or do not behave morally proves that we are not agnostic.
So hover in between as long as you can, if you so desire, but sooner or later, we all decide.
If you want to follow our conversation about how we know the story of Jesus is true, you can listen to the sermon series here.
One thought on “I Don’t Know About Agnostics”
I love the way you have worded this. I can’t wait to share this post with my husband.