Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Monday, 27 December 2010

The long way back

I have a feeling I may be starting the long road back to faith again.  I have had so many things going round my head over the last few months. I have tried to work out how I can see if there is a God or not. I have tried to use reason, as well as other things. The more I thought about things over the last few days, going on from my last post about Scripture, Reason, tradition and experience, the more I realised something.  You can't prove God to yourself, or disprove him to yourself, using just reason if you want to remain open to the possibility that he is there. When I disregard all but reason is trying to work out if God is there, I am already deciding that he is not there, so I don't need to use those things to base my decision on.  To remain truly open I want to consider all things, from all angels.

I think I am coming round to the fact that if there is a God, then faith must be involved in how we approach him and how we come to believe he is there. If there is a God, then I have to use faith in every aspect of my relationship with him. If there is a God, I believe that he is different to us. Yes, we are made in his image, but that means we reflect him in aspects of who we are.  It does not mean he is the same as us. For me it means I accept that he is eternal. He has always been. He doesn't have a beginning or an end. The 'Who created the Creator?' question simply is redundant in my opinion. If there is a God, then he is beyond our human understanding because he is not human.

I have come across some very kind people on the ex-christian website I have been looking at. They have encouraged me, and helped me to see I don't have to rush my thoughts. I can take my time. Many of them seem to use only reason to decide about God. At first it seemed sensible, but now I am really questioning if that is the right way for me. I know there is more to me than my ability to reason and think. I am what I feel, I am what I have experienced. I am how I have been brought up.  There is more than flesh and bone to me. To a certain extent I use faith every day. When I get in my car I have faith that other drivers will stop when there is a red light. Sometimes they do not, but mostly they do. Drivers sometimes not stopping doesn't mean I stop trusting the lights as a way to drive on our roads. It means I use caution and have my wits about me. Even in our courts a jury is expected to find someone guilty 'beyond all reasonable doubt'. There is an element of accepting that I can not always be 100% certain of what happened in any situation. We use reason but accept that there is a limit to our reason.

There is a limit to my reason when dealing with God. My reason tells me something but then other things I do not yet know. When I began to accept that I couldn't work it all out with reason, the burden became lighter. I realised a mixture of  faith and reason is acceptable. I feel that I am a little like St Thomas. I have been doubting and refusing to believe but Jesus has just held out his hands and shown me his side as he did Thomas.  Thomas uses  his reason to get to a point of faith. I hope I can do the same.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Banging my head against a brick wall

Every time I think I have decided what that there is/or is not  a God I read or hear something else that makes me think the opposite. As I said in my last post,  some of the countries more intelligent people can't agree on whether there is a God or not. This surely means it is really hard, or impossible,  to prove  that there is a God one way or another. Is trying to work it out intellectally really the right way? But I don't want to leave my brain out of it, God gave it to me, if there is a God, so would he not want me to use it.

I've had these verses going through my head for a few days, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. ............. without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ." (Hebrews 11:1, 6). Trying to combine faith with using my brain seems to be like banging my head against a brick wall - pointless and just leads to pain. If this is some kind of test of faith I don't want to fail it, but if I am believing a lie I want to know as well.

Even as I write this, I am suddenly reminded of essays I used to have to do after a practical placement during my ministry training. We had to look at a particular issue or situation that had arisen during our placement and work through it theologically, using Scripture, reason, tradition and experience. So I guess I can apply the same things here. I could look at it from those 4 angles. Looking at Scripture, using reason, what is traditional thought, and what does my experience tell me.   Some of the people I have read on various sites for ex-christians seem to concentrate on reason but I want to use all of the resources that I can.  I have had experiences of God (or what I thought was God at the time). Traditionally speaking most (but I am guessing not all) cultures have some sort of deity that they worship. It seems to me that it is ingrained some how in human kind as a whole to believe in God (obviously not all individuals believe in God within that society).

If it was just people who were not intelligent who believed in God I would think that maybe I could use reason and work it out. But some very clever people believing in the existence of God. Maybe to the list of Scripture, tradtion, experience and reason I can add looking deeper into my psyche, for reasons why I might not want to believe in God. What are the reasons that I am so keen for there to be a God? What is the payback for me if there is a God, or if there is not a God?

All food for thought over Christmas - the first time in years I will have the whole of Christmas off!

Friday, 10 December 2010


I've just watched the film "Billy: The early years of Billy Graham".
It has got me thinking. It showed not just Billy Graham but also his friend Charles Templeton, who was also a preacher but then renounced Christianity. It was their respective reactions to WWII that made me think. When seeing the horrendous pictures of the concentration camps, Charles Templeton's reaction was to question God, 'how can a loving God allow that to happen?', he seems to have lost his faith since then, the doubts it caused being too many to keep believing. But Billy Graham's response was 'but man did that not God', and it did not seem to shake his faith much. He carried on believing in God.

What makes one man doubt and one man believe when looking at the same evidence.  I thought the same when reading Richard Dawkins book 'The God delusion' and then reading a book called 'The Dawkins Delusion' by Alistair McGrath. Both men seem to point to the same evidence, for example the nature of our universe, and find proof of their particular view from it.

If much more learned people than me can not find definitive proof of the existence of God then maybe by looking at things from an intellectual, or reasoning point of view is not going to get me far. My trouble is that I can often see all parts of an argument, and  consequently find it difficult to come down on one side or the other. When I hear Billy Graham I find myself thinking, 'Yes that is right, there is a God and Jesus is His son. etc', but then I listen to atheists and find myself thinking 'how can I be so silly as to believe there is a God'.

If there is no God,  then I am left with a question about Jesus. Who was he? What did he do? Did he die on a cross at the age of 33 or not? If he died  like that, did he rise again on the 3rd day or not? If he did rise on the 3rd day does that not prove he is God, so therefore there must be a God. Maybe he was just human. But if he was then he seems to have been an extraordinary one, if so many people follow what he said 2000 years after he died.
I find myself really wanting to believe in God but having these huge doubts that he really exists.  But it doesn't seem to be questions of God allowing suffering that is causing me the doubts. I am not sure what is behind it. Maybe I don't need to know.  I am trying to listen to both sides of the debate equally and then try to make my own decision. But the good thing is that I don't seem as anxious about my doubts as I was.