Faith based, but in Whom, or what?

The famous atheistic philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach maintained that belief in God was merely a projection of the human fear of death upon the heavens. In other words Feuerbach said that we fear death so much, that we “invent” a God who promises us eternal life thereby creating a coping mechanism that relieves our fears. An acquaintance of mine says basically the same thing when he chides me for believing in an “imaginary sky-fairy” because (according to him) I lack the intestinal fortitude to “face-the-truth” that life is full of hardship and failure, and then we die! This dour and pessimistic outlook is not simply lack of faith, it is altogether a faith of another kind! To cite another famous atheist, Sigmund Freud; we are all a bunch of self-justifying autonomous tiny, angry gods, and the tiniest gods are the angriest of all!

I frequently remind my unbelieving friends that anger and scoffing at faith is not really an argument against the existence of God, it’s merely open ridicule designed to shut down the discussion using shame and humiliation as a weapon. Many of our guests and residents at Visalia Rescue Mission eventually come to recognize that this angry autonomy is the very thing that keeps them from recovery and healing.

 At Visalia Rescue Mission we believe and teach that there exists a good, loving, righteous, holy and sovereign God who created the universe with everything and everyone in it. We also teach that all human beings by reason of sinful autonomy from God, have become radically estranged from God, and that this estrangement, identified in the Bible as spiritual death, is the core issue and problem, not only for our guests and residents who want to recover from their self-destructive addictions but of all humanity. We are “all in the same boat,” it’s just that for most of us, our addictive coping mechanisms are more socially acceptable than others.  

 We are faith-based in the sense that we believe that the Scriptures truly and accurately reveal the nature of God and the true nature of humanity as well as the reason for our estrangement from God and one another. We believe in the God who truly is, and that He is what and who He says He is, and that He has revealed Himself to us not merely as a theological or philosophical abstract principle, but in historical actual, flesh and blood in the person of the living Jesus Christ. We are “faith-based” in believing that our angry sinful autonomy from God is resolved in a unique person who is both fully human and fully divine. He bore the punishment of God’s righteous wrath meant for us, He took our unrighteousness upon Himself and put His righteousness onto us. Our response is to believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ in order for us to become reconciled to God.

 While we use the available tools of recovery, including various trauma informed counseling approaches, the central organizing truth of our recovery program is faith in, and submission to the Living Jesus Christ.  Personal and interpersonal conflicts are resolved in the context of submission to the Living Jesus Christ. It may surprise some that it is not necessary to profess belief in Jesus Christ in order to be admitted. To the person who wishes to maintain autonomy from God, this idea may be unappealing. Yet, this is precisely what Jesus meant by losing one’s life to save it. Our entire Mission, our program, our values, our purpose, our activities, and our future, is based in devotion to the living Jesus Christ.