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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Agnostic's Prayer

The Agnostic's prayer

I've seen more than one post on FaceBook giving substantial objections to the sinner's prayer in evangelism. Myself, I have led someone to Christ using the Agnostic's prayer.

The prayer is valuable for intelligent friends who are sensitive to the sources of skepticism that are so much part of the modern plausibility structure. I present an apologetic witness, using arguments for theism and criticisms of naturalism. But my presumption is that these are if some value to those whose conscience won't allow them to consider faith due an inadequate and incomplete picture of the philosophical case for theism. My aim is to bring them to the point where their desire for meaning is peaked and where a theistic interpretation of life seems again like a live option.

There is a way one can get stuck here because of caution. That's when I suggest the Agnostic's prayer:

"Dear God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul."

On the one hand, praying this prayer is a reasonable risk if one cannot rule out the possibility that a good God exists who so to it that human beings exist with inherently religious dispositions. But it is also a commitment to be prepared to accept evidence for answered prayer according to the proportion of what we are able to know.

This prayer assumes that not all demands for evidence are legitimate. If someone wants proof that he is not wired into the Matrix, it may not be forthcoming. And this could be that God could not provide such evidence without contradicting the nature of human reasoning. To overcome such skepticism would be to remake man into a God-like omniscience. And this at not be logically possible for man to be. God could not be obliged to do the logically possible. So the demand for such evidence is illegitimate.

But on the other hand, it is clear that humans have an insatiable desire to understand and phenomenological evidence of cognitive activity that gathers evidence, forms hypotheses, judges their truth, and assumes responsibility for doing so. If God exists then we expect that this cognitive process is as good as what it appears to be. So if God exists, we expect Him to adapt His message to this truth seeking design. If we pray the agnostic's prayer, we are prepared to act on what evidence God may give us.

The Agnostic's prayer is a kind of minimal promise making. It is open to possibilities that may or may not obtain but because it's a promise it brings about a state of affairs that didn't exist before but which adds to the moral reasons for accepting Christ when it is appropriate to do so.

I also suggest whether they pray the prayer or not (and I don't insist the do it in front of me or using this formula) that they must take seriously that God may have already provided for an answer somewhere already since one might expect that such a prayer would be possible for many people. Then I introduce some of the evidence for Christianity and invite them to look more deeply into the matter to see if it's so.

I know one seeking person who was effectively led to Christ, saying that this was just what she needed to hear.

Maybe you are in the same boat. You feel like you cannot responsibly receive the good that God would do you because you see no justification for God. Science seems to have the money in the bank that overrules any plausibility of theism. And yet it seems true to you that your whole being is meant for something rather than nothing, But it is possible to move from skepticism to faith through several gradual steps, each of which based on evidence is a rational risk. If you are willing to expectantly explore the case for God and for Christ you will find the way - because God will be guiding you - to a reasonable, healthy, mature adult and saving faith in Christ.