Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

The good Dr. Haas took some exception to my recent post on coincidences as signs of God. He left a series of posts on my Facebook page into which this blog dumps (found here if you have access). I take it that the gist of his concern is that interpreting circumstances as messages from God is an inherently private action, and so removes the controls of a believing community centered on the Word of God and opens the door to all kinds of wacky things which are immune to falsification.

I continue to wonder, though, whether the kinds of experiences I alluded to have some legitimate place in the life of faith. Remember first of all that it's a pretty rare occurrence in my life that something dramatic like this happens (in a life approaching four decades, I'm still counting them on fingers (with several leftover)). Next, most of these incidents were not remarkable in their immediate contexts (with the exception of the radio song I mentioned), but have become more so as larger stories of my life unfolded. The historian will have fun with this, I'm sure: they are the interpreted "facts" (and I'm not sure there are any other kind) around which I've made sense out of some of the things that have happened to me and the choices that I've made. I'll continue to contend that my faith has a role to play in this. I believe in, trust in, and am committed to (these three attitudes classically constituting faith) seeing the hand of God at work in my life. This is always easier in retrospect and (I'm willing to concede) in community.

You'll not catch me claiming infallibility with such things, but I think it defensible that God does work through circumstances and impinge on the natural order of things. I think we can learn to hear his voice (though we need to be careful here not to think God just dictates to us what we should do in certain situations--thus rendering free will superfluous). These are components of my faith in the kind of being that God is.

Such a topic could hardly be treated with integrity without appeal to the Five Man Electrical Band classic:

"Whoaaaa signs, signs, everywhere a sign;
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind.
Do this, don't do that. Can't you read the signs?

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