"The natural attitude of a thinking mind toward the supernatural is that of skepticism, not agnosticism. The skeptic halts at the cross-roads, to take his bearings; but at the sight of a cross-road the agnostic gives up his journey altogether. True skepticism connotes intellectual caution, but agnosticism is intellectual suicide." With these words Sir Robert Anderson opens one of his chapters in his In Defence, a book which we commend to everyone who suffers from mental doubts.
What is Agnosticism?
In the words of Professor Alexander Stewart, it is "the name by which those designate their position who do not deny the existence of God, the future world, and other doctrines of religion, but declare that we do not, and cannot, know anything about these subjects, and should therefore leave them out of account." Agnosticism denies that there is a revelation, and therefore denies the Bible. In effect, the agnostic is neither logical nor philosophical, for, whilst he acknowledges there is a God, he will not allow that God can reveal Himself to the creatures of His own bands. "The Agnostic recognizes the facts of nature and the duties of life: of these he admits we have a knowledge sufficient for all practical purposes, though even here there are deep problems which remain unsolved; but because be cannot solve all deep problems with regard to God, he will not admit that we have even a practical knowledge of Him - a knowledge to be gained by inference from the facts of nature and the constitution of man, even if we leave that given by Revelation out of account. Agnosticism is thus essentially inconsistent and untenable whenever it goes beyond the declaration that there is much in relation to God which our intellects cannot apprehend."
Such a half-way position, with atheism on the one side denying the very existence of God, and skepticism on the other side endeavoring to find the way (as Paul says: "If haply they might find Him"), although it be but a feeling one's way in the dark, is surely only possible to those who refuse to know and are wilfully blind. One can have much patience with the honest doubter, the man with sincere intellectual difficulties, who is willing to make use of even a rushlight if it will but lead him in the way of Truth. But no amount of argument will avail for the one who deliberately rejects; his agnosticism is with him a "creed," a "creed" of illogical ignorance.
This article is not so much an exposure as an appeal, and that to the former class. Agnosticism has done its own exposing; it stands self-condemned in the eyes of all honest minds who have themselves made honest search and found the Way. Now, our appeal is - Will you search and find? Christianity declares with no equivocal challenge that "God hath spoken unto us by His Son." The Son Himself has said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE." And He has further laid down His principle, and a truly scientific principle at that, fully in accord with the modern scientific method, by which we may arrive at a clear knowledge of Truth, of Himself. This is given in John 7: 17: "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself." You are in doubt as to whether God can and does reveal Himself to the human heart; you are in doubt as to whether Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus) is the manifestation of God and His love to man? Right! Then there, in the few words quoted above, you will find a method of testing it for yourself. You believe in the existence of God, somehow, somewhere. Act on that belief. Do His will and you shall know. He has pledged Himself to do His part, if you will do yours. "But," you answer, "what is His will? How shall I find it out?" My answer is this: In nature everywhere we see the evidence of His power and of His workings; but in the Bible we see His will and His love. "But how do I know that?" you ask. Test it. Here is the commandment, the will of God, as given in His Word: "This is the commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ," and again, "This is the will of Him that sent Me (the Son), that everyone which seeth the Son (by faith) and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (1 John 3: 23; John 6: 40). You don't believe the Bible? Never mind, for the moment; test those words practically; receive Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) into your heart by an act of simple faith, believing Him to be true to His Word, asking Him to open your eyes that you may see and know Him. Keep asking, sincerely and persistently, and - You WILL KNOW! "Really?" Absolutely certain! God does not lie, He is not a gamester, He is God! And He wants you to know and to love Him, for He knows and loves You!
Anybody tried this way before you? Literally thousands, a host innumerable. Here is a sample of one who thus found Christ, taken from J. F. Clarke's booklet, Does God reveal Himself to men?
It tells of the conversion of H. Musgrave Reade, for twenty years, not merely an agnostic, but an out-and-out atheist, nevertheless an honest thinker, as recorded in his own book, From Atheism to Christ:
I read eagerly Strauss' Life of Christ, in which he contended that the Gospel account was on a par with the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, and that Christ was simply a myth, probably taken from the Hindu God Krishna. Then I readily drank in Renanís Vie de Jesus, with its beautiful, but soul-destroying picture of Christ, neither divine, nor human, neither the Son of God, nor a truly noble and good man. Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and a host of German metaphysicians then captivated my fancy, and I was soon in the vain imaginings of idealism, transcendentalism, and pessimism, and thus blossomed into a philosophical deist. Auguste Comte, with his Positivist Philosophy, then attracted my attention; his plausible theory of science and religion gained - many adherents, mainly through his attempts to spiritualize free thought into a religion. The Religion of Humanity was the cult, and its devotees were asked to worship an abstraction, that to elevate the idea of the whole humanity, past, present, and to come, into a grand being, to be reverenced and worshipped. Professor Huxley aptly termed it Catholicism minus Christianity. These, in turn, gave way to more extreme critics and opponents of Christianity. Rousseau, Voltaire, Volney, Paine, and others, were eagerly sought for, and the tenets of Christianity were insidiously uprooted from my mind. I became what is termed a Freethinker (why a rejecter of Christianity should have the monopoly of this title I have never been able to understand). The transition from this phase was greatly facilitated by a course of studies in the realm of science, in which I was introduced to the works of Buchner, Haeckel, Darwin, Tyndall, Huxley, etc., and imbibed the doctrines of evolution-this completed the work, and left me a materialistic atheist.
While in this state of mind Reade met Charles Bradlaugh, Mrs. Annie Besant, Dr. Edward Aveling, and other prominent atheists, and became himself an anti-Christian propagandist. In 1882 he became Secretary of a branch of the National Secular Society of which Charles Bradlaugh was president, and in 1892 he was one of the seven men who formed the Independent Labour Party. In 1900 he was appointed by his employers to undertake a long journey in America, and in this connection he visited sixty-two of the largest towns and cities in the United States. The various sights witnessed and the many cities through which he passed deeply impressed him, and formed the first link in the chain of evidence of the existence of God.
An Agnostic Convinced
In his own words the memorable journey and its consequence are thus described: -
What, then, was the result of this experience to me? Was it by mere accident that I was allowed to undertake this journey? No. I am fully convinced that it was God's 'merciful providence that ordained this as His method of drawing me to Himself, with the ever-unfolding panorama that came before me as I was travelling over those thousands of miles, coming into contact with all the races of mankind-black, red, yellow and white-skinned people. Now on the wild prairies of the West, then across the wonderful, awe-inspiring canyons of the Colorado, up 14,000 feet on the snow-capped Rockies, across sandy deserts for hundreds of miles, amongst the Red Indians of New Mexico, mixing with the cow-boys of Arizona, into the beautiful scenes of California, then the sights of Chinatown, with its 50,000 Chinese, and amongst the negroes in their log cabins.
All this had its deep influence upon my mind unconsciously, and it eventually resulted in the revelation of God to me as a Personal Being, knowing and loving the creature He had made. The hour of the revelation drew nigh. I was in the train, slowly climbing the wonderful Rocky Mountains. We had reached an altitude of 15,000 feet. We had left Colorado 90 degrees in the shade, and here we were passing through snow-capped pinnacles, where eagles were sweeping past us as the train slowly labored up the heights. The panorama to a city man brought up amidst the bricks and mortar of Manchester, was overwhelming. Here I beheld a wonder cataclysm of nature. The "Royal Gorge" some three miles deep, lay on one side of the rails over which we were passing, and we were now on the edge of a precipice, and again mounting up to another peak until we reached the highest point. At this altitude the train climbed so slowly that all the passengers left the car, and I was alone. I sat in a reverie gazing at the spectacle, whilst I began instinctively feeling about, so to speak, in my mind for an explanation of these wonders. The first defined thought was, Surely all this is not the result of fortuitous circumstances, blind chance, matter and force or, as we glibly say, "a concourse of fortuitous atoms!" Something else than the atomic theory must account for all these wonders. Could "evolution" explain it all? Evolution can give a plausible case to us whilst we are studying nature, in our chamber amongst our books, but the immediate contact with nature herself, in all her rugged beauty, speaks to us of the existence of a higher power than ourselves. Insensibly I found my mind was undergoing a change;. an irresistible feeling of wonder, awe, and reverence crept into my thoughts. I had ever been an honest seeker after truth, and the thought suddenly flashed into my mind-Might I, after all, have been mistaken? I felt I must face the question. I fell on my knees, and cried, "O God, if Thou dost exist, reveal Thyself." I asked for light and it came like a flood. The whole car seemed full of light. It was the veil torn off my mind by the Spirit of God. I felt that I was in the presence of God, and I capitulated without a struggle. I who had resisted so long His gracious pleadings, who had rebelled against His authority so many years, was at last brought into submission. I arose from my knees filled with joy, saying, "GOD IS!" There had come to me "that Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1: 9). There could be no "association of ideas," as some would say, to account for this, for as I fell on my knees I had in my hand one of Ingersoll's books which I had been reading. The sudden change simply meant that the Spirit of God had come into my life, in spite of my resistance, without my seeking, and without the help of man or books, and I knew that I beheld the glory of God and His wondrous works! Oh, what a revelation and a revolution of ideas , what joy and peace to know the unfathomable love of God! Was I dreaming, or ill with the fever? Nay, neither; I never felt better in health than at that moment. It was my first realization of the Personal Presence of God.
But although the great discovery had been made, months passed before he came into possession of the new life.
An Agnostic Converted
On his return to England, a Bible was at length purchased and carefully studied, and the joyful news comprehended that there is a new life or salvation to be had through trusting Christ.
The new life brought with it, not only great joy and peace, but an earnest desire to spread the good news to others. Having tasted that the Lord was good I yearned to let other blind souls know this great joy, but I soon found out to my want to know about this "good thing of God." They did not wish to be disturbed, they were in their sin and blindness. I marveled greatly that they could spurn such love, that the blessed news would meet with such a cold response: but I remembered my own sad case, how blind and perverse I had been for twenty years.
Moreover, innumerable witnesses could be produced, not only from amongst those who have written, but from those whom we know.
We have seen changes wrought in the lives of individuals that nothing short of divine power could effect - changes certainly not the result of the cherishing of high ideals, intellectual culture, mesmeric influences, or sentiment. We have seen these changes effected in individuals possessing minds incapable of appreciating the glories of classical literature, or even, to a great extent, the sublimity of nature. We have seen these desirable effects wrought in those with weakened will power, and with records of broken resolutions; and the explanations given by the individual have always been that these results have been consequent upon the committal of themselves and their lives into the hands of Jesus Christ, who has become real to them, and who manifests His saving and keeping power in their lives.
There can be but one explanation-an actual power. If these results are effected (and they are), to deny them is simply to deny facts-an adequate cause is essential. That cause is God in Christ, revealing Himself through the Bible by the Holy Spirit. Truly, agnosticism is inconsistent and inadequate.
Courtesy of www.biblebelievers.net/FalseTeaching/kjcagnos.htm.
This page was created on 22 May 2008
Last updated on 22 May 2008
Copyright © 1917 A.McD.Rewood