Saturday, 9 July 2011

Why I believe!

When I was doing probation studies as a Methodist minister we were given a very interesting talk by Pete Rollins.  Pete has since become a pin-up boy for the emerging church and tours America.  Pete's blog has the subtitle 'to believe is human, to doubt is divine.'  When he talked to us he was enthusiastic, kind-of deep, and confusing.  Apparently he is a very nice bloke, although we come from opposite ends of the theological spectrum. 

Pete began his talk asking us why we believed.  I guess that he thought that we had based our belief on subjective grounds.  I suppose it is not surprising that he has gone on to be an advocate for doubt.  I did find his question challenging and I have often pondered it.  What follows are some uncompleted thoughts on the grounds for faith.

1.  I believe that God is the author of belief.  Ultimately I think that I believe because God has revealed himself to me.  I believe that he opens people's eyes to see the truth.  I believe that he rescues us from our spiritual ignorance.  Any other grounds for belief are really variations on this theme (or the means of how God achieved this end).

2.  I believe because I have seen him in others.  My parents are believers.  As a child I could see that they were different from other adults.  They had an integrity that was real.  These were intelligent, thoughtful people who had a solid and transforming belief in the God of the Bible.

3.  I believe because it makes sense.  When I went to college in Dublin I wanted to find out more about the Christian faith.  I joined the Christian Union and met some very intelligent Christians.  I know that God does not choose many who are wise by this world's standards (1 Cor. 1:26-27) but I am glad for the wise ones he has chosen.  These intelligent Christians comfort me in the fact that they have thought through the questions raised by faith and are comfortable with their belief. 

One of the areas where Christianity really makes sense to me is in its explanation of the human condition.  In humanity I see unmistakable greatness and an clear inner bent towards doing the wrong thing.  In other words I see that eternity has been placed in our hearts and that we battle against a sinful nature.

4.  I believe because their is objective evidence.  Before I went to theological college a liberal clergyman said that my naivety about the Bible would be knocked out of me with some further study.  Now I can not claim to be an expert on such things as textual criticism but it seemed to me that the detractions of liberal scholars revealed more about their presuppositions than it did about the biblical texts supposed lack of trustworthiness.  I believe that there are solid grounds for accepting the Bible to be true.  In particular I am impressed by the manuscript evidence for the New Testament.  I think that the transformation that occurred in the disciples lives, and that of Saul from Tarsus, is a strong testimony to the resurrection.  I think that while there is much debate about the nature of creation something cannot come from nothing and the existence of something, particularly a beautiful something, points to a creator.

5.  I believe because I believe.  I am always uncomfortable when someone says 'I just beleive'.  I think that we shouldn't separate belief from reason.  Yet every Christian points to an inner sense of belief.  This seems to be the witness of the Holy Spirit because these things are true.

6.  I believe because God is still at work today.  I have been thinking through the issue of 'signs and wonders'.  I am not sure how much these function as authenticating belief.  What I do know is that is that there are many credible evidences of God's intervention in people's lives today (you can click on to the label 'amazing things God does' for some examples).

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