I read an article in the Reno News & Review last week written by a man I barely know, if in name and reputation only and a brief experience one semester many years ago. I don’t presume to judge him, only to evaluate and offer a differing opinion of his article, “Are you there God? It’s me, Jake.”
After reading what was clearly a manifesto on why not to believe in God, or have any faith at all, I was over whelmed with a sense of sadness for this man. His declaration that the Cold War was the reason for his loss of faith:
“Although I had no idea then how horrible war was, I was certain the monumental struggle had been ‘a war to end all wars.’ Imagine my disillusionment then when the Cold War soon set in. I was seized by a sudden truth: God doesn’t exist.”
This is something I cannot understand, except to say that in faith we all face struggles that bring us to a point of choice. These struggles, trials, and tribulations we all face force a reconciliation with what we believe. When we are rocked to our very core our faith either increases or, unfortunately, many people “lose faith”.
I am troubled by that statement, to lose faith. I always have been. I have never understood why man would blame God for man’s choices. The Bible clearly teaches that man has always had free will to make choices, but that man is also responsible for living with the consequences of those choices. God did not cause sin, or disease, or famine, or war, or any kind of suffering. That has always been man’s choice and consequence for choosing self over the protection and guidance of God. And yet, when God does not relieve us of our consequences we do not understand and “lose faith”. The sin and destruction of man grieves God deeply, but that is why he has given us freedom in Jesus Christ.
The process of faith is not an immediate and final process. It is a lifetime of turning one’s back to wrong choice, recognizing the need for a savior, and choosing God’s way. It is unfortunate that man places his own limitations, restrictions and rules around faith. I do not understand why man places faith in man to tell him what the Bible says and then takes it blindly as truth without ever checking to make sure they speak the truth. Modern man has the education to comprehend the words of the Bible and the capability through the Holy Spirit to understand it. Man’s issue with religion and faith is not with God, but with man’s misunderstanding of what the Bible says. Fundamentally, the biggest issue is an understanding of Greek and Hebrew – the languages the Bible was written in. And when something seems contradictory, there is no seeking as to a why that may seem so, but an acceptance by those opposed to Christianity as a reason why the Bible can not be trusted. Perhaps man is at fault for not seeking truth, but accepting a reason to be free to rule themselves?
I have never been seen as a person who can debate in logic and reason. I do not struggle with faith in God, only that I constantly seek my own way and not God’s. But never do I feel condemned by God or unloved. Quite the opposite. I see God as forever forgiving, loving, arms welcoming, and compassionate. He waits patiently for me to simply stop where I am and acknowledge him. He has always provided, and rescued me from the dark. I have been found and brought back from the depths of my own living hell. God does not always do what I think he ought to do. In fact, he rarely does what I think is best. But who am I to question God? I have a mind capable of understanding so little in comparison to what God knows. And he has always proven to do what’s best. He has saved me and protected me more ways and times than I can count.
In all my faith, in all my beliefs, I recognize that beyond anything else, I cannot know everything. And a fool is one who thinks he does. Simply in that statement, that I cannot know everything, leaves room for the possibility of a God that created, loved, saved and one day will return for me. Simply because something seems to be impossible for the logic, reason, and critical thinker does not mean that it is impossible for a God that is beyond this world. Man did not create himself. Nor did we “evolve” from a primordial soup, that would be a “miracle”. It is far more reasonable that a God created this world than for it to have suddenly come to be. There is so much we do not know, that to claim we do is absurd.
If you choose to disregard the Bible as a basis for truth, then you will live your life according to your own doctrine. As a Christian, one cannot pick and choose what they like and will believe about what the Bible teaches. It is clear that it is whole and complete. Simply because modern society has chosen an alternate acceptance of sin, does not make it right. Nor does it make the Bible inconsequential. It makes man wrong and misguided. As a Christian, we believe that homosexuality is wrong, in the same way that murder, theft, and coveting is wrong. It is a sin. Sin is all the same to God. Man is the one who places levels of importance or bad or wrong on it, not God. They are all equal. Sin is sin, no matter what it is. We will all be held accountable for our choices and actions in this life.
As a Christian we are called to love others as we love ourselves. So for those Christians that would condemn others for their sin and tell them they are going to hell or that God hates them, has a deep misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches. There is a passage that is often misquoted by those with and without faith: Matthew 7:1-2. Often it is quoted as “do not judge”. What is missed is the essential part, the point, which is: when you judge others, they judge you, and that you will be judged by the same standard that you judge others, so be careful how you judge. It goes on to say that before you start pointing out the faults in others, take a good, long, hard look at yourself.
The only part of his article that I take issue with and would call attention to is his limited quotation of the Bible in order to support some point he is trying to make. By taking pieces and quoting them without proper context is a common misstep many take in making the Bible say something it does not. He quotes Genesis and Exodus as if he is trying to point out that the Bible is “full of god-hurled death and destruction, violence and slaughter…wild fabrications.” Without the proper context of history, and why things are happening, one cannot understand these statements. Without offering context, the quotation is simply words on a page. They hold no value and understanding. There are many things in the Bible I do not understand. Nor will I ever have an understanding. I accept that I am a child and have been given what is important for faith.
All in all, man’s loss of faith is not because there is no God or that God did something wrong. Man’s loss is either because they never really believed in the first place or they do not want to accept the authority of God, but rather want to be the god of their own life.
My response to this man’s article: prayer. There is no other response I can have. His faith or lack there of is not my responsibility. It is God’s job to draw him to himself. My role in this case, because I have no relationship with this man, is simply to ask God to do just that, draw him to himself, that one day his heart may become soft and he can once again see the goodness and love of God.