Thursday, May 8, 2008

Believe or Hope?

My beliefs, due to various circumstances, have been under the microscope lately. This causes me to turn them in the light and try to view them from different angles.

I notice I have few solid beliefs. I see many things with a kind of dual vision. I hear opposing persons speak, and I see validity in both opinions. I read apparently contradicting scripture and am comfortable maintaining both views. This does not always go over well in Christian circles. I end up making one side or the other uncomfortable.

I came across a response I had given to a friend who had recently de-converted. He posted this question on his blog, "
How do you, as a christian, maintain faith in a belief where there is no concrete proof?" My response to him is below and I think it articulates why, though I love theology, I don't put much stock in having "the right beliefs".

I can only speak for me, but I don't feel a need to get around a lack of proof. Maybe because, technically, I don't really have beliefs. Probably what I have could be more accurately described as a conglomeration of hopes.

  • The thought that death would simply bring on my non-existence depresses me. A hundred years or so from now, no one would really even know I ever existed. It would be as if I were never here.
  • When I look at my son or daughter sleeping at night, the thought that they too will go into the void is even worse. My heart sinks at the thought.
  • When I see art, music, technology, stories and life... my heart overflows. It brings me to despair to think that could ALL be snuffed out by one poorly timed comet.
I HOPE the God I knew as a child does not exist. This god seems to see most of humanity in torture for eternity an acceptable response to their not believing He was standing behind the curtain.

I HOPE the God of 1 Cor 13 exists, one who always trusts, always perseveres, never keeps records of wrongs, and never fails.

I HOPE God is a cross between Aslan and Willy Wonka (the Gene Wilder version). One who has all the bases covered, even if we aren't aware of it yet. Who really wants you to do what is right, but will let you chew the gum if you are bound, set, and determined.

I HOPE when this story comes to a close, everyone lives happily ever after (even if the start of their story was fairly shitty).

I HOPE there is a God out there who feels about us the way I do about my son and daughter.

I HOPE the source of my love is a God who shares that love.

I am aware that this may be an empty hope in the end, but it is the one I cling to.

I am finding hope to be a much more satisfying thing to cling to than belief.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. ~ Romans 8:24-25


Anonymous said...

Always love your comments! Keep it up and if needed I'll stay with you while we put you in the stretching machine to get you back to size!


Carrie said...

Wow!!! I am lucky that as a child I was introduced to a kind, forgiving, loving God and that is the one I hope in and long for...

Redlefty said...

Excellent -- I remember reading that from you before.

Adam Ford said...

I hope some things and believe some things, but I also know some things. I have had communication from God that gives me knowledge he is there and he knows me and loves me.

Have none of your interactions with him given you enough "evidence" that he is there? (Not trying to be condescending or rude in asking.)

I recognize that sharing my "evidence" is impossible--I can only share my witness.

Andrew said...

Adam - I don't take your question as rude or condescending at all. I would bet that we probably come at this in a similar fashion and would simply use terms differently.

I do believe God to be there and I believe him to be good. That makes sense to me. But I am also aware that many people are convinced of things that simply are not so, and I can't rule out the possibility that I am in that camp.

In addition, I buy into Paul's saying, "we know in part, and prophecy in part". I think amidst our knowing God, there is also a big part of Him that is unknowable. Add to that our point of view on the whole thing, and you end up with a fair amount of uncertainty.

I like what N.T. Wright said, "At any given time, a third of my theology is wrong... the problem is that I do not know which third it is."

All that to say, it is not that I do not have belief... I just find hope to be more realistic.

Servant of the Most High said...

Is scripture inerrant? Can the bible be true? These are questions you will be able to answer if you search the scriptures yourself. Spend time out in the deep of God's word. Don't linger in the shallows of the relavant and "cool."

I find this fault among many, with the emergent movement: Christians must live of the bread of life, the word of God.

Andrew said...

Servant - I don't find your comment engaging. "I find" many of those who oppose anything emergent tend to make a whole lot of assumptions.. drop into a blog and make comments similar to yours... and either disappear or want to take part in a theological fencing match. As one who is not considered either cool or relevant, I would encourage you to calm down and take the emergent chip off your shoulder.

didymus said...
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