Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Things RC Taught Me: Jesus Calms the Tempest (modified)

I once heard R.C. Sproul discuss this passage:
35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:25-39)
I'll paraphrase what he taught me.

If you travel much in certain circles (make sure you have a thick skin and a cast iron stomach), you'll know that there is much speculation among atheists about why people are religious. A common speculation from atheologians is that we have a fear of our mortality, and especially a deep seated fear of the uncontrollable, unpredictable, undiscriminating and potentially lethal natural disaster. Floods, hurricanes, droughts—these things terrify us, so we invent religion to give us a sense of security. As long as we behave, our gods can control these things. Therefore we control them with our behavior, and if they still come it's our fault, not random bad luck.

The passage above fits perfectly. A storm arise from nowhere. Even seasoned professional fishermen are terrified, fearing a capsizing wave that meant a cruel death. Jesus sleeps. They wake the master, and he calms the wind and the seas.

This is good. It makes sense. We are afraid of death by capricious nature, and this man, this God-man, can save us. Their response fits this theory perfectly: they got on their knees in gratitude of the one who saved them, deliriously happy that in Jesus they never again had to fear the elements.

If fits—except for the fact that I lied. That should have been the response if the atheist's theory of why we seek religion is correct. The actual response doesn't fit the theory at all:
40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:40-41)
The disciples were not happy at all. They were terrified. They were more afraid after they had been saved than before. As with other encounters in both the Old Testament and New Testament, they had comes across something that was different. Something that was set apart. Something that was alien. Something that was unnatural, Something, because it is so unlike us, so starkly other, we actually despise it and fear it in our xenophobia. It was God's holiness.

I learned that, and much more, from the teachings of R. C. Sproul.

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