Skip to main content

Special book offer for donors on Giving Tuesday. Learn More 👉

Character, Skepticism, and Prayer

February 3rd, 2007 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

In the context of a discussion about the method in which God develops a conversation relationship with us - by forming our character - and our appropriate response, Dallas Willard writes of the serious barrier our culture's skepticism poses to genuine intimacy with God.

From his book, Hearing God (p. 218), Willard writes:

We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupic as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. The fashion of the age has identified mental sharpness with a pose, not with genuine intellectual method and character.

Willard goes on to point out how much this attitude can hinder prayer life. A Christian is ready to explain away possible answers to supplications by naturalistic means. There is a kind of Christian that accepts events in life too readily as answers from God. However, I venture to say most of our readers are folks who need to be reminded of the reality of God's intervention in our lives and real-time responses to our prayers.

Here is a final remark from Willard, driving at the truth of the epistemological conditions in our culture at large:

Today it is the skeptics who are the social conformists. Though because of powerful intellectual propaganda, they continue to enjoy thinking of themselves as wildly individualistic and unbearably bright.

At what price shall we gain this attitude? The better way is to start from an position of belief and take the disconfirming evidence as it comes, rather than rush to explain away the supernatural in our lives.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.