Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I Believe

Whenever a piece of a song gets stuck in my head, playing in a loop over and over again, for hours or days, sometimes the only way to get rid of it is to go and listen to the song. There is something about sitting down and experiencing the fullness of the song that cures the repeating phrase, frees my mind.

Sometimes I have questions that do this same thing.  For about a month now, I've had a Question twisting back and forth through all my other thoughts.  It's a big Question, a hard one.  Scary.  In fact, the first time I've even spoken my Question out loud was last night during a conversation with my friend Dee (who writes Jumping Tandem, a blog you should be reading. Go ahead; I'll wait.)

But I said it out loud, and as far as I can tell, the world didn't stop.  So for the sake of my sanity, my ability to concentrate, or just to get it out of my head, I'm going to write it out loud, and own it, and experience its fullness.

I believe that God is Good. (Not just good, but Good.)
I believe it to my bones... but I don't know exactly why I believe it.

I went to a small Southern Baptist college.  During my sophomore year, neo-Calvinism came sweeping in, and suddenly everyone was talking about TULIPs and predestination and free will.  I wanted to be a Calvinist, because it sounded so Right.  I wanted to be, for about five minutes, until someone explained the five points to me.  NO NO NO, I thought, and spent the next few months wondering if I could still be "saved" if I didn't agree with Calvinism.

Young Earth Creationism was also kind of a thing back then.  I remember seeing a video series around that time, where a young, enthusiastic scientist explained that the earth was really only about 10,000 years old, human history began about 6,000 years ago, and all of science (fossils, continental drift, evolution, carbon dating) was just wrong, either unintentionally (because they were too stupid to believe the bible) or maliciously (because they hate God or Christians or faith in general).

No, I'm not kidding.

Now, I am a somewhat bookish person in general, and I am married to an ordained minister, so I've been exposed to a lot of theology-talk over the years, spent lots of time with people who are both personal and professional Christians, and I tend to be somewhat intellectual about my faith.  So I have had lots of questions, and Questions, and as a result, I have left behind a lot of the conservative evangelical politics and theology that I learned in those college years.

I hate to use an already tired metaphor, but conservative evangelicalism felt like a box to me, and once I began to question things and be honest with myself about my beliefs, I knew I couldn't stay in that box anymore.  But the problem with leaving The Box is that, while it can stifle and constrain, it also gives a sense of security.  So, if I'm not going to live in The Box anymore, then what do I think about x, y or z?

Over the past several years, I have wrestled with lots of Questions, questions about the nature of God, the scope of salvation, the role of Christians in the world, the already-but-not-yet of the Kingdom... I have wrestled and am still wrestling, still wondering and seeking, trusting that God is big enough to handle my Questions.

I started this post off by saying that I don't know why I believe God is Good.  But I think maybe I really do know.

I believe God is Good because I believe in (or as my pastor would say, into) Jesus.  I believe that the Gospel really is good news, that God's word does not return to him void, and that we don't need all the answers in order to trust God to handle his business.

Amen and amen.

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