More than once in my life I have had to stand at the bedside of a dying child in terrible suffering. And what? Could I explain anything at all to those who stood around the bed? Could I vindicate or justify these sufferings and this death “religiously”, as they say? No, I was only able to say: God is here, God is. I could only confess how impossible it is to measure that presence with our sorrow-filled, earthly questions.
How starkly this contrasts with the work of apologists who can explain anything and don’t hesitate to tell us why there is suffering and death. At one point, I think I may have understood why people suffer and why there is death. I don’t think I do any more. Sure, I know the textbook answers, but they seem inadequate. I know that many people find them unsatisfactory. I do know that I AM. I have faith because I AM — God is so real that I cannot escape the reality of his presense. Fr Alex goes on:
No, of course faith is not the product of my need for explanations. But then where does it come from? Does it come from fear of suffering after death? Or does it come from being frightened of total annihilation, from that passionate and ultimately egotistical inner desire not to be annihilated? No, this is not why I believe, for it seems to me that speculations about life after death and immortality—even the most intellligent philosophical speculations—are just so much childish babbling. What do I know about all this? And what can I tell others?
(Emphasis mine.) Here we clearly see apophatic theology at work. Admitting that talk about the things like the afterlife; the “rapture”; “post-”, “pre-”, or “mid-trib”; etc. sounds like “so much childish babbling” is a start in the right direction of contextualizing theology.