Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Will Not To Believe

I first came across Wilbur M. Smith in the Forward he provided for Alva McClain's The Greatness of the Kingdom and the Preface to George N. H. Peters' The Theocratic Kingdom. His comments were thoughtful and so I looked him up. It turns out that he wrote a book (published in 1945) called Therefore Stand - A Plea for a Vigorous Apologetic in the Present Crisis of Evangelical Christianity.

This book may be out of print although second-hand copies are still available. Smith's message to Christians is a valuable one and it is sorely needed, now more than ever. You can read a review HERE.

I found this excerpt from the book very true, even from my own limited experience:

One of the reasons why men do not believe in Christ, and in the Word of God, is that they are determined not to believe. This is the deliberate, determined attitude of their mind. No matter what arguments are presented to them, no matter how accurate they find the work of God to be, how incontrovertible the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is shown to be, they cannot intend to believe. Someone will say, "No one can possibly be as stubborn as that." Yes, it is not only possible, it is continually manifested. Thus for example, the outstanding church historian of the nineteenth century, speaking of the Lord's miracle of the quieting of the waves in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, frankly said regarding a storm being quieted by a word, "We do not believe and we shall never again believe." Harnack does not mean that the evidence is not sufficient for belief, he means that whatever the evidence is, he is not going to believe. Goethe took exactly the same attitude concerning the resurrection, "A voice from heaven would not convince me...that a woman gives birth without knowing man, and that a dead man rises from the grave. I rather regard this as blasphemy against the great God and His revelation in nature." I have a letter from a Professor in a theological seminary in this country regarding the resurrection of Christ (the writer's name cannot be divulged because of a promise made in regard to this correspondence), who frankly told me that he would not judge the miracle of the resurrection by historical evidence, for, from a scientific and psychological point of view, he was prejudiced against it, and no evidence would ever change his mind. William James of Harvard wrote a remarkable book once which he aptly called The Will to Believe: a new book could be written today, even from the same University, with an equally true title, The Will Not to Believe. ~ Therefore Stand (pp 174-175) (bold emphasis my own)

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