Too Large for His Small World of Fact

Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas

I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s sermon hymn, These Things Did Thomas Count as Real (LSB 472), all weekend.  It’s a brilliant piece of poetry, and Pastor Kuddes in his sermon noted how its message is particularly appropriate for the modern mind, especially in light of the fact that the account of Thomas was the reading appointed just one day after the much-publicized March for Science in America.

The earliest generations of scientists were largely Christian.  They used their God-given senses and reason joyfully to explore and describe the orderly physical world that God had created.  Yet at the same time that they investigated the observable facts, their minds were open to and accepting of the possibility that the world was bigger than what they could perceive with their senses, that there could exist things that could not be measured empirically, and that the observable patterns which they labeled “laws of nature” could in fact be changed by the God who created those patterns in the first place.

Sadly, this open-mindedness has been lost by modern atheistic scientists, who first assume and then dogmatically assert that nothing exists in the universe but matter and energy and that all processes of nature must forever proceed in exactly the ways in which they have been observed and documented to operate.  Confronted by a universe so large as to confound human reason, the modern mind pretends it to be small so as to be more manageable.

When Thomas the empiricist encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ, he encountered a Truth that was unmanageable, a Truth that did not fit into his small, preconceived system, and that Truth drew him out of his system into faith: “My Lord and my God!”

These things did Thomas count as real:
The warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
The grain of wood, the heft of stone,
The last frail twitch of flesh and bone.

The vision of his skeptic mind
Was keen enough to make him blind
To any unexpected act
Too large for his small world of fact.

His reasoned certainties denied
That one could live when one had died,
Until his fingers read like braille
The markings of the spear and nail.

May we, O God, by grace believe
And thus the risen Christ receive,
Whose raw, imprinted palms reached out
And beckoned Thomas from his doubt.