December 20, 2010

The Will of God (Defining the Will of God)

My brother called me in January, 2006 to tell me he had cancer. In May, he died. Was that the will of God? What if the medicines had reduced the cancer and he was able to live another 6 to 9 months, was that the will of God? If his death from cancer was the will of God, were the doctors attending him fighting against the will of God?  If they had been successful, was that the will of God? Obviously you can't have it both ways. There must be a middle ground to help understand what God will's for his children.

A women looks into the eyes of her husband and very calmly says, "I want a divorce." Was it the will of
God that this union sealed with vows that promised to love "until death do us part", be dissolved? Was it the will of God the wife had the courage to get out of a marriage where the love had long gone.  Was the husband thinking it was the will of God because he too wanted out of the loveless marriage but didn't have the courage to speak up. If they had reconciled, would that have been the will of God?

Two nations find go to war for any number of "good" reasons. Many are killed on each side. Were those deaths the will of God? Does God will war so humans can kill each other? Not my God! And yet each side will invoke the blessings of God. Mothers and fathers will send their sons and daughters to war and pray it is the will of God they return alive. If they do return, every one will rejoice and thank God.  If they do not return, many will tell the mourning parents, it was the will of God.

These situations all beg for an explanation. How can we explain the will of God in the face of these contradictions? Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, the pastor of London's City Temple, in the middle of the German bombings in World War II, delivered a series of sermons on the subject of the will of God.  Those sermons were collected in a book of the same name.  I have borrowed his concepts of the will of God for this series.

Dr. Weatherhead discusses three sub divisions to help understand the bigger concept of God's Will. Perhaps I can help illustrate the three sub-divisions from personal experience. My brother, Phillip, was a rebellious youth and young adult with all that implies.  In his adulthood, he began to settle down but still had an addiction to smoking and alcohol. I suspect he rarely entered a church and rarely read the Bible.

So how did the will of God work in Phillip's life? Certainly it was not God's will that he live the life he did.  God's intentional will for Phillip was for him to live a life that enjoyed all the benefits of being a child of God. But Phillip's choices in life reflect his choices not God's.  Phillip faced many hardships in his life, most of which came from his choices. But God did not abandon him. The truth of the verses in Revelation 3:20 (NIV), "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I come in and eat with him and he with me."  Ultimately, Phillip developed the cancer that killed him. But God was able to use this particular circumstance to bring about the His ultimate will for Phillip's life.  Phillip, perhaps recognizing he did not have the ability to control the situation, opened the door and let Jesus in. About six weeks before his death, Phillip accepted Jesus as his savior. He was baptized in that faith.  In the final analysis, God was able to use the circumstances of Phillip's free will choices to bring about His ultimate will for his life. Amen!

God has an intentional will for our lives. When life's situations do not allow God's intentional will to be done, He is still able to work with us to protect and guide us. While God's will for our lives may be changed by our free will or evils in the world, ultimately God's will prevails and can not be defeated.

Within God's Will, there is the intentional will, the circumstantial will and the ultimate will of God. We will look at these three sub-divisions of God's will in subsequent posts.

December 14, 2010

The six megathemes changing religious environment in the U.S

I found this story while searching Religious News on Google.  It is a bit long and it does not fit into my series concept for articles, but I thought it very revealing about the state of Christianity in Postmodern America. I extracted excerpts from the article. I suggest you read the complete article.  There is also a link to the authors of the study.(Note information below should be considered as coming from the Barna Group report unless comments are my comment in italics). 
Change usually happens slowly in the Church. But a review of the past year's research conducted by the Barna Group provides a time-lapse portrayal of how the religious environment in the U.S. is morphing into something new.
Analyzing insights drawn from more than 5,000 non-proprietary interviews conducted over the past 11 months, George Barna indicated that the following patterns were evident in the survey findings.

1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate. ...
data suggest that
biblical literacy is likely to decline significantly. The theological free-for-all that is encroaching in Protestant churches nationwide suggests the coming decade will be a time of unparalleled theological diversity and inconsistency. (Most of us do not know what we believe. Pew Research developed a religious test to determine the religious knowledge of Americans.  Fifteen of the questions are on their site. I suggest you take the test and see how you compare. No, I won't tell you how I did.)

2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
Despite technological advances that make communications instant and far-reaching, Christians are becoming more spiritually isolated from non-Christians than was true a decade ago...With atheists becoming more strategic in championing their godless world view, as well as the increased religious plurality driven by education and immigration, the increasing reticence of Christians to engage in faith-oriented conversations assumes heightened significance. (We have this Good News and apparently are reluctant to share it with others. Why?)

3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
When asked what matters most, teenagers prioritize education, career development, friendships, and travel. Faith is significant to them, but it takes a back seat to life accomplishments and is not necessarily perceived to affect their ability to achieve their dreams. Among adults the areas of growing importance are lifestyle comfort, success, and personal achievements....Practical to a fault, Americans consider survival in the present to be much more significant than eternal security and spiritual possibilities. (Perhaps we just do not believe Jesus when he said, "Seek you first the Kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to it". We continue to believe in our own abilities and not relying on God's abilities. It is hard to obey Jesus command, "Do not be anxious".)

4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
Largely driven by the passion and energy of young adults, Christians are more open to and more involved in community service activities than has been true in the recent past. While we remain more self-indulgent than self-sacrificing, the expanded focus on justice and service has struck a chord with many....To facilitate service as a long-term way of living and to provide people with the intrinsic joy of blessing others, churches have a window of opportunity to support such action with biblical perspective. And the more that churches and believers can be recognized as people doing good deeds out of genuine love and compassion, the more appealing the Christian life will be to those who are on the sidelines watching.  (Our best witness is our action.)

5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
The challenge today is for Christian leaders to achieve the delicate balance between representing truth and acting in love. The challenge for every Christian in the U.S. is to know his/her faith well enough to understand which fights are worth fighting, and which stands are non-negotiable. There is a place for tolerance in Christianity; knowing when and where to draw the line appears to perplex a growing proportion of Christians in this age of tolerance. (I wish I had written that!)

6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.
Christianity has arguably added more value to American culture than any other religion, philosophy, ideology or community. Yet, contemporary Americans are hard pressed to identify any specific value added. Partly due to the nature of today’s media, they have no problem identifying the faults of the churches and Christian people....In a period of history where image is reality, and life-changing decisions are made on the basis of such images, the Christian Church is in desperate need of a more positive and accessible image. The primary obstacle is not the substance of the principles on which Christianity is based, and therefore the solution is not solely providing an increase in preaching or public relations. The most influential aspect of Christianity in America is how believers do--or do not--implement their faith in public and private....With little time or energy available for or devoted to research and reflection, it is people’s observations of the integration of a believer’s faith into how he/she responds to life’s opportunities and challenges that most substantially shape people’s impressions of and interest in Christianity. (The underline is mine. If we are to be Christian in an increasingly non Christian world, we must begin living like Christians.  We need to understand what it means to be Christian. See 1st John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth.)  

About the Research
This summary is based upon a series of national research studies conducted in the Barna Poll by the Barna Group throughout 2010. Each study was conducted via telephone interviews with a random sample of adults selected from across the continental United States, age 18 and older. With one exception, each study included a minimum of 1,000 adults; the exceptions were one study among 400 adults, and one among 603 adults. Each survey included a proportional number of interviews among people using cell phones. The data set for each study was subjected to minimal statistical weighting to calibrate the aggregate sample to known population percentages in relation to several key demographic variables.

Mosaics are individuals born between 1984 and 2002. Baby Busters are individuals born between 1965 and 1983.

The western states encompass Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

December 8, 2010

Who's reading "I Believe"?

The first post on I Believe was on July 8, 2010.  As of today December 8, 2010, the following are some interesting statistics. Counting the United States, I Believe has had visitors from 14 countries. The top five, other than the US, are Russia, Poland, Canada, South Korea and China/UK (tied). In the US, I Believe has had visitors from Tennessee, California, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Georgia.

There have been 1,309 page views all time, 172 last month and 62 in the past week.

The most read pages are Bible Versus to Ponder, My Study List and What shall We Do About Those
Humans? I predict The Bible Online will slowly move into the top three as more visitors discover the great links to Bible study sources online.

The most read posts are
     From the I Believe series ... The Bible is my Spiritual Guidebook
                                            ... In the Bible (Mostly)
     From the Being a Christian Ain't Easy series
                                          ...Part 1
                                          ...Part 2

In the next few weeks, I will start a series on Prayer.  The following series will be on The Will of God.

December 2, 2010

Being a Christian Ain't Easy (Part 5 Faith and Works)

Faith or Works or Both?
We know the problem.  Humans are not capable of being “good” all the time.  Our intentions are to do the right thing, but it is hard to do the right thing. Our natural instinct of self preservation makes it difficult to submit the control of our lives to someone else. God knew this and sent Jesus to bear the punishment that is required for our sins. It’s like Jesus agreed to serve a 30 year prison sentence because I committed some heinous crime. And all I need to do is believe that Jesus is taking my punishment.

It all sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? If that were the end of the story, it would be easy. But James, the

November 25, 2010

Being A Christian Ain't Easy (Part 4 - Avoiding my Punishment)

Jesus made it impossible to be a Child of God in the traditional Jewish way. Jesus preached the Laws and the requirement to follow the spirit of the Laws as well as the letter of the Laws. The previous posts about the Sermon on the Mount outlines these requirements. It was Paul who understood the real mission of Jesus. It was not to preach stricter adherence to the laws but to fulfill the stricter requirements of the Jewish Laws that called for the payment or punishment of sins.  Jewish law required a blood sacrifice for the redemption of their sins.  And Jesus came to pay that price!

It became Paul's task to explain that sacrifice to Jews and Gentiles alike. While studying with the disciples and others who knew Jesus, he began to develop the theology we now recognize as Christianity.  The Gospel of John has the most concise explanation of this new faith. "...that whosoever believed in Him, shall be saved..."
(John 3:16).  Paul developed it further in his letters, especially in his epistle to the Romans.

We humans simply can not do what the Laws required.  We lust; we hate; we steal; we have other things as our gods; we are envious; in fact, we are incapable of "...being perfect..." We are all doomed to the fires of Hell as punishment for breaking the Laws of God.  Those Laws require a fitting punishment. Think of the

October 19, 2010

Being A Christian Ain't Easy (Part 3 - What Shall We Do With Those Humans?)

What started as a simple story to illustrate the truth of John 3:16-18, turned into a major piece well beyond the confines of a blog post.  But I wanted to include the story and not compromise on the length, so I decided to warn you and let you decide to read it or not.

(Before starting, readers must realize this is totally imaginary on my part. The concept of a conversation between God and other Heavenly bodies has roots in the Book of Job where God allows Satan to test Job. Like that story, this tale is intended to make a point not record a conversation. The Biblical basis for this story is John 3:16-18)

"For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that 
whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, 
but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not 
condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned 
already because he has not believed in the name 
of God's one and only Son." (NIV)

The Problem

The six friends walked and talked their way through the flower garden to the patio where Sarah and Leah had prepared a delicious breakfast.  This was the cottage of Abraham who was out with his friend David on a mission for God. Abraham loved his home but missed the outdoors and the fresh air.  These mission trips gave him the chance to re-visit his old earthly home and be invigorate.

As the six approached Abraham's cottage, one of the companions was taking a bit loud and was particularly animated with his hands emphasizing his comments.

“I think you should start over again just like you did with that first group. It was a mistake to let Noah live.  His descendants are just like his neighbors were.”

“Now Michael, just calm down, I don’t want to start over.  I have developed affection for these people. We will have to find another way,” said the oldest and tallest of the six. He appeared to be their leader.

“We have seen it over and over; they just will not obey your laws.” 

“They are hard headed.”

“But I love them.”

“But we made them in our image, what do you expect? If you give them free will, they don’t always choose wisely.”

And so went the banter back and forth between the six as they reach the patio and sat at the table.  As they
loaded their plates with grapes, cantaloupe, fresh bread and eggs, their conversation did not stop. The old

October 13, 2010

Being a Christian Ain't Easy! (Part 2 Jesus makes it impossible to obey the rules!)

As I reviewed my last post "Being a Christian Ain't Easy" something struck me. Who am I to be proclaiming Jesus, Paul and James right in anything! I'm sure they are in Heaven breathing a deep sigh of relief now that Steve has declared them correct.

Taken together, Jesus's "Sermon on the Mount" recorded in Matthew's gospel, Paul's introduction of God's grace and our faith in his letter to the Roman's and James's practical description of what it means to have faith in Jesus, is a pretty good foundation for our understanding of God, Jesus and our role as children of God.  Jesus sets the "real" rules, Paul tells us that all is not lost because we can't follow all the rules and James hammers home the parable of the two men who build their houses on either the rocks or on the sand (Matt 7:24-27) by saying "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" ( James 1:22, I like the King James version)

From the beginning of the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew chapter 5:1 to the end in Chapter 7:28, Jesus is

September 28, 2010

Being a Christian Ain't Easy! (Part 1)

I started reading my New Testament looking for some requirements for Christians.  In Matthew 5, Jesus does indeed give some “rules” for living a Christian life. Then I got to the 48th verse and read the killer command, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.” Perfect, are you kidding? Sin and imperfection  greets us at every corner. After re-reading the Sermon on the Mount, it became painfully obvious that I for one could not be “perfect.” Consider the following.

Matt 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment, ...anyone who says , 'You fool,’ will be in danger of the fire of hell!” I suspect I will have a lot of company in the fires of hell, if those who are angry with his brother ( and presumably his sister as well) are subject to judgment.

Matt 5:28. “But I (Jesus) tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery

September 20, 2010

I Believe the Bible is my Spiritual Guidebook

The last post was titled “I Believe in the Bible (Mostly)” and ended asking the question, “Can I still use the Bible though I believe there are some errors, or at least some significant potential for errors?” The answer is a resounding, "Yes" with a qualification.  I would not use the Bible as an absolute historical record.  I would not use the Bible as an accurate record of the conversations and dialogue of the Hebrews as they interacted with God and their neighbors.  I would not use the Bible as an accurate timeline for the development of mankind.  I would not use the Old Testaments as a list of specific laws required to become a follower of God and His son Jesus Christ. I would not use the New Testament Gospels as exact timelines of Jesus ministry.

The reason I would not use the Bible for these reasons is because I don’t believe the Bible was intended as a history or scientific book but rather a spiritual guidebook.  Whether the Flood happened or Abraham argued with God or Joseph had a conversation as recorded, word for word, with his brothers is not important to me in my growth as a Christian.

September 9, 2010

I Believe in the Bible (Mostly)

In previous posts, my beliefs are fairly consistent with traditional Christian beliefs. At a minimum, a Christian must believe in God and in Jesus.  Belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus are essential parts of the Christian belief for without these beliefs, neither God nor Jesus make any sense and we are practicing a false religion.  These are my basic beliefs from which I will not vary, can not deny. 

You will notice in prior posts, I reframe from quoting scriptures as “proof” of either God or Jesus.  It would be relatively easy for someone to advocate a belief in a certain religion if they only used a book they had written to prove the religion. The Christian New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament were written by humans with common religious beliefs. This does not negate the validity of their writings, but it would not be good scholarship to use what they have written to prove what they have written. Using a scripture that says, “God exists” can not be used to prove that God exists.

I believe in a creator God and a savior Jesus because of the non scriptural evidence that convinces me.  But

September 6, 2010

I Believe in Jesus

When discussing Jesus, there are at least two questions that must be asked. Was the Jewish man whose name translates into Jesus, who is proclaimed by his followers as the Christ, an actual person in history? The answer to the second question has much larger implication. Is this Jesus who his followers say he is, i.e. the prophesized Messiah of the Jews, the Son of God, Immanuel, God with us?

Probably the most universally accepted fact about the Jewish carpenter, Jesus, is that he actually lived. Wikipedia, certainly not a scholarly source, does offer several references to the historic Jesus. While there are some historians who reject the notion of the historic Jesus, the vast majority accept his existence in history.  Major religions also accept Jesus as having lived in the approximate time frame indicated in the Bible. Muslins accept Jesus, but do not see him as the prophesized Messiah.  They see him as a great teacher and a prophet of the one God. But Islamic texts do not accept the concept of God having a partner in the Lordship of the earth. But they do recognize that Jesus lived.

Judaism rejects the idea of Jesus as the prophesized Messiah. In fact, they do not consider him to have been a

August 31, 2010

"Give me that old time religion"

Please permit me a blog post of a personal nature without the need to provide advice about something or to expound on a religious topic. 

Nunnally United Methodist Church in Hickman County TN
During a discussion with one of my customers and his wife, I mentioned my Blog “I Believe”.  Thinking he might stump me, he asked me to briefly state my beliefs.  I responded with the Apostles Creed which begins, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord....”. As I got into the Creed, he and his wife both joined me as we ended the Creed with, “... the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting”.  The three of us laughed and parted as brothers and sisters in Christ. As they walked away, I thought, “Why had that Creed popped into my head so quickly?” As I pondered this, I began to understand the legacy of my many years in the Methodist Church (now the United Methodist). The constant and often boring repetition of certain portions of the service were silently criticized by us young folks. “I get nothing out of saying those things. I know them by heart and could say them in my sleep.”  What seemed terribly old fashioned then served the real purpose of cementing them and their message in my mind and heart.

I attend a local Baptist Church and always leave the service with a sincere feeling of having worshiped God and having been filled with the Holy Spirit through the music and the inspired message of our pastor. 

August 25, 2010

I Believe in God - Questions about God

You would think after three posts, I would be through writing about a belief in God. Truthfully, there are indeed numerous other posts about God, the nature of God, God's relationship to His creation, God's intervention in history and so on and so on.  Most of these questions will be addressed in later posts. As an aside, you may tire of me indicating I will address something in a later posts.  Frankly, I am tired of writing this phrase and am anxious to proceed as well.  But my intention in these first few articles is to establish a basic foundation of beliefs. On this foundation of basic beliefs, I can discuss other beliefs which may not be "provable" but which are faith based and thus as strong as any other beliefs.  In other words, I feel I must earn the right to discuss faith based beliefs by setting out some basic foundational beliefs.

But before proceeding, it is important to confess there are some questions about God that continue to elude me. For example: 

August 11, 2010

I Believe in God - The implications of a belief in God

So I believe in a creator God. More importantly is the question, "What are the implications of this belief and how does it impact my life?" 

There was a book several years ago titled "Your God Is Too Small". We often limit God to those things we see as being possible for humans to do.  For many, God is nothing more than an over-sized, very powerful human.  So our requests of God are often limited to those thing we think are possible for humans. Seldom do we ask for or expect to receive those things which we perceive to be impossible. We underestimate a God who is powerful enough to create the earth and the universe from nothing. So the first implication of the creator God is that nothing is impossible with God. As an aside, realizing that nothing is impossible with God is not the same as expecting to receive everything we ask of God even those things which are for a good purpose. Can God heal? Can God move mountains? Can God keep our loved ones safe in a war?  The answer is yes to all three.  But the real question is not can He, but does He in all cases? I think the answer is probably no.  These are things we want but are they the things God wants? Unfortunately, we do not know the details of God's will.  But we do trust that God has our best interest at heart and the things that happen do so for a reason although the reason may be unknown to us.

The creator God does not have a time table for this earth. As humans, we are constrained by the limits of time, minutes, hours, days, years. Thus when we write of the creation of the earth we are limited to the use of words such as, "On the third day...". When in fact, a God unlimited by time, may have taken a billion years of human time to accomplish the task of creation.

The natural sciences suggest that the earth has taken millions of our years to develop and evolve. That evolution extends to the development of  humans as well. Natural scientist have discovered the bones of prehistoric humans, often different or varying species of human-like creatures they estimate are the steps in the evolution of mankind as we know it today. Through carbon dating they have  determined the period of time when these various prehistoric humans lived.  These estimates are given in human concepts of time.  Interestingly, the dating is in increments of tens of thousands of years; this species of human lived between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, etc. so far there have been discoveries of at least three fossil remains of variational of humans.

Since God is not constrained by the limits of human time, why it so hard for us to believe that God used  all of these variations in humans to test and refine us as we are today?  What to us is 200,000 year ago might be a mere second in God's time table. The fossil remains may, indeed, be evidence of God's craftsmanship.

To believe in a creator God, we must not restrict God to the limits of our understanding of Time nor must we gauge His handiwork on our scale of the possible.

July 21, 2010

I Believe in God - (But not necessarily this)

The first article in this series indicates my basic belief in a creator God without whom the earth and all that is part of the earth would not exist. While there are other aspects of God which could be stated, I believe a lot of them are faith based and thus not part of my "basic" beliefs.  To be sure, I have a number of faith based beliefs about God but they are not a part of the previous article.

For example, the previous article:

* does not indicate a belief about the gender of God. God generally has been given a masculine title but I doubt this is the reality. In the biblical record, God is always referred to as Father, He or some other masculine pronoun. As a result, I use the masculine pronouns because it is convenient in writing not because it is part of my basic beliefs.

* does not indicate the method(s) used by God in the creation process. It is reasonable, at least to me, that God could well have used the evolution process to “try out’ several variations of the creatures, including humans, plants, land masses, etc until the “right” one emerged. In other words, we may still be in the creation process and God’s “seventh day” of rest may not have been reached.

* does not indicate the time frame God used to find the “right” creation. True, Biblical conservatives will argue God used six, remember he rested on the seventh day, twenty-four hour days to create the earth. While I have no doubt it could have been done in this time frame, I doubt it did. In any event, the time frame is not critical to my basic belief in God.

* does not indicate the intent of God in this creation. Frankly it would be very presumptuous of me to attempt to know the mind of God. I think there is evidence to indicate God's purpose for creation, but most of these beliefs are faith based and will be explored in later posts. My belief in God does not depend on His purpose.

* does not indicate whether this is God’s only creation. There is no reason to believe that this earth is the only creation of a God powerful enough to have created it in the first place. I do not believe this God is limited, much less to one creation. We may be one of several “worlds” created by God.

* does not indicate the residence of God. Where is heaven? Frankly, I don’t know! And knowing the location of God is not a factor is my belief in God.

* does not suggest God had any helpers in this creation. We might call these helpers “angels” and they are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian story of creation and subsequent events of history. But are they based in reality, I don’t know! But I do have a belief based on faith as to at least one "helper" in the beginning.

* does not indicate the relationship of God to His creation. Many would argue that God set the rules of nature and then let nature develop based on those rules with no further help or involvement from God. Others would argue that God is directly involved with his creation and his involvement is evident throughout history even to the current day. While I have a faith based belief on this question, it really does not influence my basic belief in the existence of God.

Many of these questions about the many facets of God are the subject of religious tenants in the hundreds of faiths on the earth. For many, their particular response to these questions is basic to their faith and worth fighting over. For me, the basic concept of the existence of God is basic and unchallengeable and the rest are subject to discussion. My belief on some of these questions is faith based such as the relationship of God to all his creation. I will have more to say on that and other subjects in subsequent posts.

The important response to this article is to meet the challenge of determining what YOU believe about God. You have my response, discover your own.

July 19, 2010

I Believe in God

If I were born in a location and to a family unit where there was no belief or disbelief in God or a supreme being, where would I look to find evidence to confirm or deny the existence of God? Assuming a relative good mind and the availability of resource, there are at least two resources to which I would refer for evidence that would confirm the existence of God. What is the testimony of history and what does this world tell me?

Those who study ancient peoples and civilizations, paleontologists’ archeologists and such, have discovered evidence people in all time periods worshiped or paid homage to a spirit or god or something beyond themselves. Whether this was in the form of a nature god such as the Sun god or the god of the harvest, or the rain god or in a more personality driven god envisioned by the ancient Greeks, they nevertheless, saw something as being superior. They often developed elaborate stories about the existence of these gods and their relation with humans.

It is in the nature of humans to recognize a power superseding their own power. There have been no atheist civilizations. Ancient writings, whether on cave walls or paper, all indicate a people who lived and functioned within their individual concept of a god or gods. In and of itself, this does not prove there is a god. It does, however, suggest one since no major group of people to date have found reason to reject the concept of a
superior  being. This being we conventionally call God.

July 8, 2010

What do I truly believe?

I was born and raised in the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt. In my wildest dreams, it never occurred to me that someone might not believe in Jesus. And even if they could possibly not believe in Jesus, surely, they believed in God. And then I grew up!

I work in a retail store and as I interact with my customers, I often ask them where they attend church. The answers vary, most often being the Church of Christ or the Baptist Church in their community. To be sure, the Methodist, I can not get used to calling them the United Methodist, Lutheran, Mormon, Presbyterian, Catholic and Jewish places of worship get their fair share of responses. But never have I gotten the response I received the other day, “I don’t go to any church, I don’t believe in all the stuff!” After recovering from my shock, we had an interesting discussion about the existence of God. He didn’t leave convinced, I am sorry to say, but he did start a line of thinking that has me thinking seriously about my basic religious beliefs.

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