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?”