Difficulties In Faith -- By: John Bascom

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:265 (Jan 1910)
Article: Difficulties In Faith
Author: John Bascom


Difficulties In Faith

Ex-President John Bascom

In speaking of the difficulties of faith, we do not refer to those which pertain to any particular creed but to those encountered by earnest and intelligent minds striving to hold fast these fundamental convictions — the presence of a wise, loving, and supreme Ruler in the world; our lives as ripening into immortal life. Few achievements in physical power are as remarkable as the firm, pliant balance of a man on his feet. If we consider the height of man, his upright structure, the narrowness of his footing, and the slight hold of his feet upon the ground, the dexterity of wrestlers in attack, their resistance to overthrow, become a marvel of resources. A strong, rapidly changing balance is opposed to lift, push, and pull in a way that baffles all effort; when a statue of either combatant could not maintain its equilibrium without bolts. The poise of a sound mind within itself by which it holds in check the endless forms of doubt, stands firm against the innumerable convictions which attack it on every side, and maintains a secure movement forward amid all the fluctuations of belief, is not less a marvel of power, achieved only by athletic intelligence. We have as yet much to learn in the art of intellectual equilibrium, by which we move freely yet safely amid the veering

winds of belief, and pursue with alertness the shifting flight of truth. We wish to give a few of the conditions of thought which, in the matter of faith, favor a steadfast, coherent, rational movement.

We are, in the first place, to accept as equally worthy of credence all portions of the facts which come under discussion; the facts of the physical and of the spiritual world which, interlaced in a great variety of ways, constitute the data of knowledge. Much of the uncertainty which attaches to belief arises from an artificial weakening of familiar convictions, either physical or spiritual, and so destroying the balance of thought on which the stability of belief should rest. Spiritual and physical phenomena are alike valid and must be rendered together under their own primitive force. They unitedly constitute the universe we have to explain, to which we have to adjust our actions and notions. The universe has these two sides, and so we must apprehend it. If we dwell separately on either of the two we shall soon find ourselves as incapable of extended, satisfactory movement as the fish with one fin, the bird with one wing, the man with one leg. The progress of physical events is to be understood in connection with causes, the growth of intellectual conceptions in connection with spontaneity of thought. We cannot accept and sustain either movement except under the conceptions which belong to i...

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