I often get private messages from my facebook friends asking me various theological questions…especially when I’ve said something “controversial” (a subjective word, btw!!!) in one of my notes. So, where it is appropriate and where I have been given permission, I am going to start taking the best of these questions, editing my response, and making them into public notes. Here is the first:
Recently I had a friend ask me why I believe in God. Here’s my succinct and edited (I removed specific names and places, and added a few editorial notes for clarification) version of my answer. This is not a theological treatise attempting to prove God’s existence. It is, rather, the reasons I believe…in a nutshell.
I think there are a number of reasons I believe in God. I suppose I could give you different theoretical arguments for the existence of God (ontological, teleological, cosmological, etc.), but when it comes right down to it, the reason I believe in God, particularly the God revealed in Jesus, is that the Holy Spirit in me confirms the truthfulness of that reality. In other words, it’s experiential.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually struggle with the experiential reality of God more than most Christians. But when I look over the course of my life I see a divine hand guiding, wooing, loving, and holding me. I may not always be able to see the finger prints of God in any given moment, but I can always see them when I look back after a period of time.
Furthermore, I don’t see life as having any meaning apart from God. If we really are an accident of nature…a happen-chance mixture of biology and chemistry, then our lives really have no ultimate meaning. Life is meaningless in the naturalistic model. Beauty and truth make no sense – there is no standard for such things outside of human perception.
But with God, beauty and truth are not only possible but meaningful. They give substance to reality. They, with great difficulty admittedly, make our sufferings meaningful. In a naturalistic world, our suffering, like our joy, is merely an accident of nature. But with God, suffering is not desirable, but ultimately can be redeemed.
Last, and more could be said, I think Jesus is the only hope our world has for genuine redemption and peace. For all our wars and strivings for things, the only possibility of having genuine reconciliation between people who hate each other is to follow the example of the God who died on a cross for those who hated him. This is more than merely a belief in ‘god’ in general. This is the necessity of a specific deity, with a specific character.
Now, to be honest, if it were only for my experience with other Christians and at church, I would probably have walked away from the faith long ago. But through my experiences studying various denominational and theological viewpoints, I have seen a God who is not the self-centered, narcissistic deity of many of our contemporaries. I have seen a God who is self-giving, humble, generous, and, indeed, compassionate – a God who suffers with the suffering, a God who has compassion on the needy, and MOST OF ALL sits and IDENTIFIES with sinners and the tempted. This may not be the God of the certain forms of evangelicalism, but this is the God of the Bible as far as I can tell.
So, my reasons for believing in God are two fold – my personal experiences, and my contemplation on the meaning of life apart from a God of deep love and compassion. The witness of the church is important, but the failings of the church do not negate the reality of a crucified messiah.
Let me know what you think, friend. It’s a really interesting question. I’m not sure anyone’s every asked me that before.