Friday, January 20, 2012

I Believe...?

I believe in God.

For some people, that sounds like a na├»ve statement. They ask, “How can you believe in God when there so much evil in the world?”

“Where is he?”

“If God is so good, why are things so bad?”

“If God cares, why does it seem that he’s never there?”

I know a number of preacher-type people who have snappy answers to questions like that. They’ll say it’s all about being faithful in trying times or that God is testing us, or that it’s all part of a plan that we are too small to see completely if we can see it at all. There are a lot of quick answers delivered from pulpits and heard on radio and television that sound deep and full of wisdom. They are not. They are shallow, pietistic platitudes. Often these statements are followed by a plea and a passing of the offering plate.

If someone actually has the temerity to point out how shallow and devoid of real truth these platitudes are, they are accused of having weak faith, or of being against God. As if these pious pontificators have a pipeline directly to God that is not available to you and me! They are quick to point how spiritual they are and how in tune they are with God and the Bible while they sell their books and their DVDs. “Come on and sing these deeply meaningful choruses while we tell you what to think, how to think and where to think.”

I’ve had enough.

I’ve had enough of religion that is based solely on feelings. I’ve had enough of religion that is based solely on inductive reasoning or on examining each phrase and word of the Bible under a biased microscope of whatever the popular theological method is today. I’ve had enough of an overemphasis on orthodoxy, orthopraxy and ecclesiastical correctness. I’m tired to death of the theological theme park we’ve made of our faith.

Do I sound bitter? I won’t apologize for that. I’ve seen too many good people who were seeking God be hurt by those who claim to be his messengers. They came with open hearts looking for truth only to find that truth was being jealously guarded by self-appointed spiritual storm troopers. The religious Nazis doled out minute quantities of the bread of life, quickening the hunger for the whole grain of truth. They then slammed the doors because someone didn’t look like them or sound like them or think like them or was not a supporter of the same political party.

Now, back to my opening statement. I believe in God. I just believe less and less in those who claim to have a hammerlock on his truth or his will for this world. It will be very interesting one day, when these very self-important people find that God is so much bigger than they are, bigger than their church is and bigger than their faith is.

I still don’t know the answers to many of the hard questions about suffering and evil. I’m very willing to explore the questions with someone who is a fellow seeker. I’m not as willing to sit still and be told to conform to someone else’s choices of acceptable faith.

Faith should be more than “acceptable.” It should be transforming. The problem is that so many people want to make God’s choices for him as to who should be transformed and what form that transformation should take. That’s a very dangerous game that I’m not willing to play. The costs of that kind of conformity are just too high.