The Odd Dichotomy of Western Christian Thought
As a western culture we are taught from the cradle to doubt. We are never to take a thing at face value. We are taught to be skeptics as quickly as we are taught to tie our shoelaces. Question Motives, origins, make up, directions and outcomes! Then, once and IF you understand it, you may accept it. As I have said before, we live in a culture of doubt. To doubt is actually glorified. In some way, though it should be. Being skeptical can help protect one from certain pitfalls in the form of swindlers and thieves. Along with that comes this harsh inability to accept that which we do not know, or at least fully understand.
Yet, as Christians, we are raised to believe in this unseen God. We hear talk of demons and angels. We have promises of Heaven and sanctification. We hear of or even experience miracles or spiritual warfare. All of these things, unquantifiable yet expected to be accepted. We learn to pray to this God and build much of our life around Him. We learn to sacrifice ourselves to Him, unseen though he is. And we do. Every day we live this harsh dichotomy as western Christians.
In earlier years, this isn’t so difficult to do, as our concrete minds have little to no trouble compartmentalizing this paradox. On one hand we firmly believe nothing really exists that we cannot measure or understand. On the other, we firmly believe that God, the intrinsically unknowable, does indeed exist. It isn’t till later that these two begin to collide. Many begin to smash the two concepts against each other until one prevails and the other fades away. Some of our most passionate and outspoken atheists were brought up in some form of the church. Or we have our mini Chestertons who glory in their belief in the possibilities of Fairies. Some search out a way for the dichotomy to remain and hold onto both at the same time as they age and develop. Still others refuse to deal with the discrepancies and hold desperately to both.
If everyone/thing around you tells you that the supernatural or unknowable is foolish, at what point does that all-encompassing skepticism apply to your own faith?