Simple faith. It’s spoken and preached about like it is possibly the best thing someone can possess.
In the Bible Jesus talks about possessing faith like that of a child. Matthew 18:2-3, ‘2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”‘ (NIV).
I was at a conference a few weeks ago, and one of the senior leaders of a charity admitted that they have a simple faith. The crowd cheered and I found it really strange. Essentially, this person is admitting that they have never critically looked at what they believe to be the foundation of their entire world. The exceptional claim that Jesus thought He really was God, died and then rose again to rid us of our sin and allow us to enter into a relationship with the Triune GodHead (the trinity). This person is taking this as fact without exploring the truth of these claims and the likelihood that such exceptional claims are real.
These days I find that I stand outside of Christianity and look in, wondering how people can really honestly fully believe that the Bible is the inherent word of God. Or how people can be completely convinced that the documents we call the Gospels really hold the words of Jesus.
Every area that I used to believe as true has crumbled like ash within my hands. Talking in tongues, healings, scriptural accuracy, God existing, divine purpose, sin, freewill, prophecy, an afterlife, to name but a few. These have all crumbled and are gone, and when I look into one of these areas, I find that there can no longer be certainty, I seem to have passed a line and I don’t see how I can ever go back.
How can anyone believe these things are real? How can we know? Agnostic seems to be the best word to describe these things to me now. Naturally I want certainty, and the Bible claims I will be ‘cast out where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ if I don’t take the words it professes as literally true. But how can I when I have seen they are so easily shown to be wrong, made up, contradictory, false, written far after the events? It can be more easily explained as being written to simply setting up a situation that we can never prove was what Jesus wanted or thought when He was alive and upon the Earth.
As I have mentioned, simple faith is talked about as a good thing. I think the reason for this is that people know the more you look, question, wonder the more you begin to deconstruct and the further and further you walk away from God, the Bible and the Church.
Someone I know quite well within the church has labelled me as, ‘rejecting the truth that I know to be true, because I actually want to live my own way within sin’, this person thinks I have banished myself to destruction and hell.
I don’t understand. I don’t feel like I have made any choices in this. I wanted to get into apologetics because I wanted to defend what I thought was true, the Christian claims about God. I wanted to find answers to the questions non Christians had raised within my mind, and if God is real and all knowing He can steer me along a path that will bring me those answers, or at least help me to stay connected to Him. There are a lot of examples of early church fathers doing just this, learning, studying and engaging in intellectual dialogue within their time.
If God is God, then He is the foundation of truth. Searching, asking and seeking has to lead to Him if He is real. If I find myself less sure, more sceptical and further away from God, then it reasons that God isn’t real, at least not the God I was raised to believe in.
I listened to the only surviving recording of C.S Lewis recently, you can find a version of it here. What Mr Lewis is talking about in this talk is that humans are called to choose God and then our calling is to become more and more Christ-like within our lives. Most of us don’t get very far down the road before we pass away, but sometimes you can see someone who has made it further than most. That we can see a difference in these special individuals’ faces, in the tones of their voice, in what they class of as importance.
I understand why this is appealing. Believing there is a God that calls you personally to know Him and to reject what you want in favour of what He wants from you. It sounds like an amazing opportunity to claim a reason for existence and to rest in grace and love as you consistently mess up along the journey. Because you will, no one is perfect. The standards Christ sets out are claimed to be perfect by Christians, though this is debatable. But that is not what this blog post is about.
What I find confusing though is that there are many non Christians who seem ‘different’ too many others within the world. They seem to be more loving, less selfish, more gracious and less easy to cause difficulty or trouble. Does this prove there is a God, or does this prove that Christianity is a narrative that is effective at duping people into a lie in order to grant them a purpose bigger than themselves.
I have said it before, but I will say it again. I want Christianity to be true, but I do not want to believe something that I want to be true. I want to believe something that is true. Christianity doesn’t seem to be true. All evidence (that I have come across) for it seems to be false and the world is showing this to be the case as the church declines year on year here in the west.
As apologetics ramps up each year, more and more Christians get on board and then find they are swayed far more by the none Christians responses than they are by the Christian arguments. This is precisely what happened to me.
Sure, the church is growing in certain places. But doesn’t it seem strange that the places the church is growing are precisely the places where believing in God gives people meaning and purpose to get through exceptional hard circumstances. God gives meaning, and when we have nothing to live for and are forced to conform (take North Korea for example), then believing we have a meaning other than just being a fluke chances within an unlucky circumstance within human history (as you actually are in North Korea and every part of the world), is very powerful.
I was thinking about this the other day. If I was in North Korea, would I turn to God once again? Would I begin to see that all my logic, reading, theories and writings mean nothing when I have no purpose and reason to get through today. Would I begin to believe that God gives me a reason that is bigger than myself, and therefore gives me something that is extremely powerful? In all honesty, I don’t know.
Does this mean that God is real? I am sorry but I just can’t believe that it does, at least not in the place I find myself right now.
I have read too deep and gone too far to accept unfounded claims, based on ancient documents that we can’t honestly prove are reliable. A simple faith grants us a simple hope. But it simply doesn’t mean it is true. It is possibly useful, and I wonder if this is why the Church exploded like it did in the first century. Rather than exploding in numbers based on any truth in the claims of Jesus rising from the dead, those around Him saw a simple hope that could change everything, and it did, it went on to bring Rome to its knees. Hope overcame the biggest empire the world, up to that point, had ever seen.
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen via YouTube. Dave and I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂
When Belief Dies #45 – 'Theoretical Bullshit' with Scott Clifton – When Belief Dies
- When Belief Dies #45 – 'Theoretical Bullshit' with Scott Clifton
- When Belief Dies #44 – 'A Humility to Life' with Julian Baggini
- When Belief Dies #43 – 'Will Truth Win Out?' with Randal Rauser
- When Belief Dies #42 – 'An Honest Pursuit of Truth' with Barrett Evans
- When Belief Dies #41 – 'Christ or Bust' with Glen Scrivener