So this isn’t going to be like my normal posts. I have to write more than I normally do. The other day I received a tweet that warrants a response, but I can’t honestly fit my answer into 140 characters.
The tweet that started this is here:
At first the question was whether I was confident that God exists along with this photo, that I assume was to get me to start questioning my Bible.
As the good Biblical scholar that I am, I had to find an answer to this question. After doing a little bit of research, both the term Sinai and Horeb are names for the same place. Some translations of the Bible even change Horeb to Mount Sinai (not saying this is great practice, but it’s true). One resource I found suggested that since Horeb is not used with “Mount”, and the term “horeb” means “waste or wilderness area”, it is probably better to think of Horeb as a region while Sinai is a specific location.
So that’s why I do not believe there are contradictions in the Bible. If you actually study it, any apparent contradictions fade away.
Back to the question. “What led you to be so confident [that God exists]?” I have admittedly had to take a moment to think about this. It’s like asking me “How can I be so confident that the next time I take a breath, I will take in the appropriate amount of oxygen to sustain my life?” Since I assume this answer doesn’t satisfy the question, I had to give it some serious thought. The tweet version of my answer is “#experience”.
One theologian I subscribe to is John Wesley. He taught that the Christian understanding of God can be divided into four major groups: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Scripture is the primary revelation of who God is and where to find Christian doctrine. Tradition is all of the centuries of Church history we have behind us, that helps inform our doctrine. Reason is the important philosophical part of being a Christian. Our faith is not something we can just say we have. We must also be able to think it through. If something doesn’t make sense, go find the answer. Finally, experience is how our own lives teach us about God.
Growing up, I was not a Christian. I was pretty regularly a person that picked on Christians, and didn’t understand why someone would go through the trouble of believing in a god, when I saw no evidence of Him. As I went on to college, my faith in nothing was challenged, and I began to search for answers. The thing that I found that really got me is that, faith isn’t about knowing all the answers.
So I looked up the definition of faith. The second definition is “belief that is not based on proof”. I realize this is a hard sell to anyone, especially in a time when we have so much evidence to back up our claims. But not knowing all the answers is faith. God didn’t ask us to have faith in Him because we knew all about Him. He asks us to have faith in Him because through our doubts we know that we can still trust Him.
Once I learned this truth about faith, I began to look at any understanding of God with an open mind. I ultimately accepted Christ, because the Christian faith sat best in my heart.
I’m not saying that faith is blind. Your faith should be questioned. If you can’t think through it, you don’t believe as well as you thought. If you reach a point of trouble and doubt, don’t give up. There are plenty of people and resources that can help you find the true answer. My experience tells me there’s a god, and I know Him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I see Him in Creation, my wife, my children, my friends and co-workers. I see Him at work in people’s lives, even if they don’t see it themselves.
If you don’t believe, I ask why not? Have you really given faith a chance? Have you taken a look at it with a truly open mind? One video that gets me every time is Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator. Admittedly this video did not bring me to Christ (I was already there when I watched it). It is based on his book of the same name, and gives scientific evidence for the existence of a Creator. While he wasn’t searching out the God of the Bible, it is the one He found through other paths in his life. If you are, or someone you know is, having a hard time with God because “science”. I think this is a very good video to watch. Especially if you are open minded.
Open-mindedness is definitely hard. We all have ideas and opinions already made up. Just give God a try, and don’t let your preconceived notions cloud your judgment. It could save your soul.
“But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because He is good to me.”
–Psalm 13:5-6, NLT