Crisis of faith: Reflections on Victoria Stafford and the nature of God

I realize that I created this blog primarily for forays into the entertainment world, but honestly, I made the damn blog so I’m allowed to expound on whatever I want.  So I will.  This will be about religion, specifically Christianity, which is the religion that I grew up in and left a decade ago.  I’m not trying to offend anyone here.  I just have some very basic questions about God and the nature of faith.  If any Christian out there can answer my dilemmas, I want, no, need to hear from you.

I grew up in the church and became a Christian at the age of 10.  I truly and devoutly believed what I was taught as a child and a teenager.  I made a decision to go into the ministry and enrolled in the Religious Studies program at Wilfrid Laurier University.  That is where the doubts started.  The questions that everyone asks but no one really answers.  I used the standard Christian response that God’s ways are a mystery that we will someday know, but not here on Earth.  Eventually though, this response didn’t cut the mustard and the doubts overrode my faith and I drifted from it.  I didn’t ‘backslide’ (as some Christians reading this might think), in fact, I can truly say that I live a better, ‘holier’ life now than I did as a Christian, but without all the guilt.  Lately, my lack of faith has cropped up in several areas of my life with all the questions of how this could happen.  Well, everyone, here are some of my dilemmas:

Today, two young people, a 28-year-old man and 19-year-old woman were charged in the murder of 8-year-old Victoria Stafford.  For those who may not know, Victoria was abducted coming home from school on April 8 in nearby Woodstock, Ontario (a half hour from me) presumably by someone she knew from the only video surveillance available.  It is thought she was raped and murdered later that day and the body dumped an hour away outside Guelph (also an half hour from me).  Now these are allegations and rumours and nothing is certain as her body has not yet been found.  This event brought on a nationwide (Canadian) media frenzy and subsequent search.  I’m not going to discuss the case in detail, however.  I just want to use it as a jumping-off point.  Here I jump.

I think we can all agree what a horrific and disturbing act this is and I’m quite sure none of us can even imagine a situation that would have us commit this act.  As a Christian I believed in an omnipotent God, all-knowing.  He knew, as the book of Luke says, the number of hairs on my head.  He was in control, guiding us if we would be guided.  He gave us the freewill to choose our path but the knowledge to know what the true path is.  How, though, can an all-powerful God not be able to step in to affect events that are against His laws?  Oh, but He is able, Christian doctrine teaches, He just chooses not to.  It’s all part of His plan, which we are not privy to know.  I’ll be honest.  I’d rather worship a God who is unable to stop the abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl than a God who is able but chooses not to to further a mysterious plan He won’t let us in on.  After all, ‘Jesus loves the little children… they are precious in His sight’, the Sunday School song says.  Well, Victoria Stafford didn’t seem very precious, did she?  Oh, but God weeps over this, Christians would say.  Well, if He’s all-powerful then He could have done something to thwart this horrific act.  Period.  If any of us were confronted with the possibility of stopping this, we probably would have done everything in our power to do so, even at risk to our own lives.  Why not God?

Christians believe that Jesus Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Therefore, anyone who is not a Christian, the Bible teaches, will go to Hell (“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to distruction,  and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”).  According to the most recent figures, approximately 33% of the world’s population is Christian.  That leaves two-thirds of the world’s population that God is condemning to Hell.  Of that two-thirds, a large percentage are devout followers of their own faith, many far more devout than the average Christian.  Yet the God that created them, gave them the capacity for belief, condemns them for not believing in Him.  Why does God NEED us to worship him?  Oh, Christians will say, He doesn’t need us to believe in and worship Him, he deserves this belief and worship for giving us life and His Son.  And yet, if we don’t, He will condemn us.  Well, we are told, He is a jealous God.  Why would an omnipotent being feel as petty a human emotion as jealousy?  Is this an attitude that we would accept from another human?  Yes, of course, because we KNOW that humans are frail, flawed beings but God is omnipotent (see previous discussion). 

These are a few of the many questions I have.  Those of you who have questioned over the years my turning from faith have a little insight now.  I will say this, though.  I have read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and I accept it to a point.  I see the intricate structure of the world and all that is in it and cannot imagine it occured by happenstance.  I see how man has developed his world and cannot imagine it occured by happenstance.  I know the emotion of love I feel for my family and the joy I feel in viewing a work of art and cannot imagine it occured by happenstance.  I just can’t imagine this guiding/creating force is the Christian God that I’ve described.  Someday, I hope to discover what it’s all about, but until then, I’ll quote the great Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) in the greatest teen movie ever made, Say Anything: “I don’t know.  I just know I don’t know, you know?”

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2 thoughts on “Crisis of faith: Reflections on Victoria Stafford and the nature of God

  1. In the case of the poor girl in Canada or other cases of history the question of why does God allow bad things to happen and not intervine is a very good question. The best answer I can give you is to re-read the old testament. In the old testament is that God intervined quite a bit. God told Abraham if you and your decdents worship me with all my heart, you will have decendants as many as the sand on the beach and Abraham believed. To get the story started as you know the Jews first had to become slaves for a VERY LONG TIME before Moses came. Then during Moses era, God parted the red sea, he fed the Hebrews Manna. In the book of Judges every time they rebelled, he had a judge come in who rescued them by doing some ridiculous feat, yet the people wanted a King so God granted them a King, Saul kinda screwed up but David came in and God was with them. Then came Soloman and Isreal hit their peak but despite that Isreal didn’t worship God with their whole heart, they worshiped Idols. If you believe that most of what happened in the Old Testament did occur, despite very clear interventions, the Isrealites still didn’t believe and they fell so hard that when the Babylonians were invading Jerusalum the children of Isreal resorted to eating their own children for surivival. Thats how hard they fell. The Old Testament showed to me that despite Gods DIRECT Intervention we are stubborn to believe. So with Jesus Christ the decision is to take it at face value, here is the truth and you can either choose to believe it or not.

    I have thought about well what if 2/3 of the world who aren’t Christian will go to hell, it is a PC answer but they will have to be judged differently on the basis of how can you be condemed about the truth on something you don’t know. I would like to think of it in the context of the parable of the lost sheep of how the shepard who left the 99 other sheep to find the one or how a man searches hard for a lost coin and rejoices when it is found.

    Overall in Chrsitianity there is a whole lot to criticize today about being a Christian, but what is interesting is that all the things that people criticize (Legalism, hypocricy, making it seem impossible to be a true Christian) are all things that are mentioned in the Gospels. The Bible expicitly allowed anyone to point out who is a true Christian and who is a wolf in sheeps clothing. I say in that parable of many would want to enter but only few can get through the narrow gate maybe you should look at that in the context of Christian themselves, as many would want to get through the gate but only few will. It does say in Chapter 3 of book of James that not many of you should become teachers for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

    Overall to sum up Christianity in America it is a double edged sword. The US (shocking as it may seem to many adults) is still much more conservative and we are more of a Christian nation than it seems. In my opinion if you ask an American what are many of the common values they have is Christian values. Women’s rights can easily be seen from the Gospels. I’m from Czech Republic and funny enough during easter women are spanked with a paddle when men sing a song. See if that will fly here. Civil Rights can and have continued to evolve because over time Christians came to recognize their hypocricy But….

    This is a double sword nation as captalism (Not trying to sound to Communistic here )-: ) ends up forcing people to think what people have aren’t good enough and to always keep up with the Jone’s and strive to be rich. In a sense some core values of what we have as a country are counterintuitive to being a Christian.

    Overall sorry for the logn rant, but I do not look to convert you but at least hope to make you think and reixamine your ideals.

    From one hypocrite to another, continuing to search for the Mysterious God

  2. WOW you should be writing all the time. Your style is wonderful. I have remained a christian since I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. However I humans in the world have taken the bible and made it read the way they want too! Remeber how much trouble we got into when we dance to the song Lord of the Dance at our church…how stupid was that!!!I can’t answer why Victria died or if God could have stopped it. I do take comfort that she is in heaven where she is no longer in pain. there are just evil people in this world!
    As for Christianity. I truely believe that all religions have a God…our God and just call him by another name. The jews believe in God ! Their level of faith is no different then ours God created all parts of the world, all faiths wether his name is God, Jesus, Mohammad,Boda and the list goes on. We have just americanized our religion. And really how sad is that! Why can’t we all live together believe the way we want to and let our neighbour do the same. why is our way the right way?
    Anyway these are my thoughts. i know they are not typical. and don’t get me started on the politics within the church the is frustrating as Hell!
    Jean

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