I’ve read Pete’s book over the sin of certainty. I’m just curious how we can know God? Let alone trust him? Trust seems to be the life of faith. And just curious what everyone’s idea is? I mean I guess to me we see love through Christ’s sacrifice which in a sense would be a reason to “Trust” but since I’m not certain about my beliefs is knowing God even possible?
Yep. Faith not certainty.
Knowledge is not about certainty. It is about choosing to live your life accordingly. It is about faith. All real knowledge is founded on faith. Certainty is more in the category of delusion and being scammed.
… and I haven’t even seen the book you say is written by someone with the first name of Pete. If you gave me their last name or the name of the book I might be able to know what book you are even talking about.
It’s Pete Enns book. What would you describe faith as then? In Greek it’s pistis. Which is like “trust and reliability” I guess you could say. But that was mainly what my problem was. Which is why I had a hard time. So you say faith is how we know God?
God is knowable and trustworthy, and certainty can be had experientially, existentially, if our hearts are right. From another discussion:
And a favorite quote from the end of Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God:
During a dark time in her life, a woman in my congregation complained that she had prayed over and over, “God, help me find you,” but had gotten nowhere. A Christian friend suggested to her that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded when she was recounting this to me, “The only reason I can tell you this story is—he did.”
Tim Keller, The Reason for God, p.240
How would I describe faith?
- Faith is choosing who you are and how you will live your life. That choice is hardly blind. You may have all sorts of reasons including hope.
- It is only blind when it ignores the demonstrable evidence. That changes it from faith to willfulness and self-delusion. And that is the danger of the scam of certainty. Since it isn’t real then you have already crossed the line into self-delusion and one break from reality leads to another.
- But real faith is ultimately about who you choose to be and what you choose to fight/struggle for. That is not a matter of evidence but choice, because it is not about where you are but what direction you want to go. So Jesus said over and over, “Your sins are forgiven so go and sin no more.”
Yep. I know God exists as well as I know anything. It is not objective (scientific) knowledge, but that only means it provides no reasonable expectation that others should agree. But how should I not know who I choose to be? But just because it is who I am doesn’t mean it is who others are.
Ah, but it is as well. It starts with faith, but when God has providentially intervened in someone’s life, they will know it, as Maggie did.
[In any case, there needs to be evidence in the believer’s heart, that it has been changed, that they want Jesus and that having him is more valuable than anything else, as I alluded to above.]
Trust in God is something that grows with experience. If you meet someone new, you usually don’t trust her/him as much as someone you have known for a long time. Repeated positive experiences of reliability build a strong trust.
Growing trust in God has been a somewhat wierd experience. The feeling is that I understand less and less of who God is and why He has decided what has been informed in the Bible. At the same time, trust grows. Less understanding but stronger trust. That’s wierd but true.
Welcome to the forum!
There are those who insist that we cannot know God apart from trusting him … that is - to set about being disciples who obey. According to that, there will be no understanding or belief apart from obedience.
As for whether or not knowing God is even possible, i love the way the thought is presented by C.S. Lewis…
When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him.
if Shakespeare and Hamlet could ever meet, it must be Shakespeare’s doing. Hamlet could initiate nothing… i.e. Shakespeare could, in principle, make himself appear as Author within the play, and write a dialogue between Hamlet and himself. The ‘Shakespeare’ within the play would of course be at once Shakespeare and one of Shakespeare’s creatures. It would bear some analogy to Incarnation.
Knowing God indeed is absolutely impossible unless God takes the initiative and in some form or fashion communicates real truth about himself into this world, and in Christ truly did come into the world such that we who trust/have faith that a Christ was what he claimed to be, that we can indeed know a God. that is exactly what we believe as Christians…
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Faith is not a vague or baseless or blind trust in some religion that we humans invented, it is a trust and confidence that what we embrace is, as it is repeatedly claimed, revealed from God, through the Scripture and prophets, but especially in Jesus who is truly God incarnate.
Also, forgive my curiosity, but since you mentioned the book, I’m wondering how that fits into your overall question, or what specific aspects of the book has particular relevance for your larger concern?
I guess for me I do fall more into the camp that faith is blind. Ive never seen Jesus, or Yahweh, and I’ve never seen a angel and i have never witnessed a without anyone doubt miracle. I don’t believe there is any scientific reason to believe in God outside of filling up gaps and unlikely coincidences with him.
The testimony of other people also carries little weight with me because I’ve met people ranging from construction workers, to doctors, to military members who are not drug addicts, are decent people, and they even all believed in God, who swears with all they are that they saw Bigfoot or aliens.
When I read the Bible I have to take it on faith that the accounts are true. When I read about Jesus rising up from the grave, spending a few weeks with the apostles, and then floating away behind the clouds I have to take it on faith. When it comes to even knowing when this or that biblical letter was written I have to accept it partly on faith.
Take the book of Matthew. Experts believe it was written between 80-90ad. But it’s recording of a conversation that took place 50 years prior. If that’s true, it means that Jesus foretold the destruction of the Jewish temple and not only that but stated it would be within their lifetime. But then I have to consider that since it was written well after the fact, it could be a embellished rumor that started.
The strongest reasons why I believe in God comes down to a few things.
I do find God in the gaps of the creation of the universe. We have no answers right now on how did the first spark of energy, movement, or matter begin. What was the very first reaction that set it all off. We have no answers. For me that blank space has the name Yahweh wrote on it.
Even though I never met any of them, we know that Christians existed in the first century. We know these people claimed to have had first hand experiences and that they saw and knew Jesus and the apostles themselves. We know that these people believed to the point of being killed. The apostles was invested enough in the church that they were willing to be murdered for it.
But I also have to contrast that with faith. Because there are cults now that have members willing to die for it. We have cults who are willing to poison their loved ones to make sure they make it on a special ship meteor type thing. We have other faiths like muslims and buddhists who all sincerely believe in their God, their scriptures, and their prophets that contradicts the story of God in the Jewish Bible and the testimonies of Jesus and the apostles.
So even then I have to place faith there.
So for me even though there are a handful of reasons why I believe, they are all held together by just faith. Without faith, those stories and testimonies and sacrifices are no different form any others.
The last thing that makes me believe is that I have faith that God wants to reach out to us. That his holy power calls to us, guides us, and we just have this supernatural intuition that despite the irrationality of it that Yahweh is real and that his son is too. But again, it’s faith. People with mental disorders also believe in their hearts that they are actually a superhero, someone cursed by something or that they need to chop away at their body to make it fit what they believe it should look like , such as alien hand syndrome.
I don’t believe faith is who you want to be. I believe that our faith is in who Jesus was.
It does make people wonder what the difference is between this and believing in creationism, Star Trek or the stories of Greek, Norse, Egyptian, and/or Asian gods. If it is nothing you have seen then why not believe in the fairy tale and the more exciting story? I certainly enjoy stories about such things and read novels or watch movies about them all the time. But of course I see a difference between great entertainment and how I choose to live my life.
I was watching this youtube video a few days ago where a young woman tells her story of how her faith in Christianity was deconstructed. It shows how easily such a faith in external things can fall apart. It may be great fun to talk about a hero who has all kinds of admirable qualities, but what makes the one you focus on more real than all the others that people have written stories about?
Eating is not the replenishment of bodily materials. I eat only vegetables.
Odd thing to say don’t you think? A denial of what something is followed by a statement of how you use it. Saying what you put your faith in doesn’t tell us what faith is. I put my faith in not only who God and Jesus are but also in the methods of science and the distinctions of rationality (and no doubt a great many other things as well). But talking about what I put my faith in doesn’t say a single thing about what this faith I talk about consists of, let alone how it differs from delusion and wishful thinking.
I don’t think it’s a odd thing to say. I think it’s the truth. I don’t follow Christ because he portrays everything I agree with. I don’t. I don’t agree with everything in the Bible. I don’t even agree with everything God did in the Bible. But I believe God is our creator and since i decided to follow him I do so. My faith is in who they are. The one true God and the King of Kings. So I place my faith in them and let their standard be mine.
I answered why I think mine is correct and not someone who follows another God. Faith. Nothing more and nothing less. Does not matter if it’s wrong, does not matter if it’s fake. That’s why I believe and I have no reason to stop believing it and so I continue to pursue it.
Well said… your thoughts here remind me of a similar sentiment from my chief mentor of years past…
If Christianity is only a mythology, then I find the mythology I believe in is not the one I like best. I like Greek mythology much better, Irish better still, Norse best of all.
And this kind of thinking is why Stephen Weinberg said… “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion.”
Of course, he was wrong. History demonstrates that any ideology can do that. It doesn’t take religion.
BUT I will certainly not allow religion (OR ideology) to do that to ME!
And… I will fight those who use religion as their excuse.
So… you are absolutely correct! I would not believe in Christianity UNLESS it did agree with what I think is good and moral. The result is that I have explanations for how circumstances can make the things God did in the Bible good things – you bet I do! You will find those all over this forum - like talk about how the description of the world before the flood, “every imagination of the thoughts in his heart was only evil continually,” implies an absolute hell on earth. You WILL NOT find me saying that genocide and eradicating all life on earth must be good things just because God did them.
I also personally struggle with the fact that Jesus ate meat. I understand why God used animals in sacrifices. I think the bloody death of a animal of value was meant to be painful to the Jews. It was meant to showcase what the cost of sin is. But I feel that Jesus was beyond that and could have chosen to not eat meat. It’s weird to me to see the son of the creator, the incarnation of the power of God made flesh ( the word ) who stated to Adam to care for the land and be a good steward to consume the corpse of his very creation.
I always think of a “joke” I saw once.
In what way was Frankenstein’s monster more compassionate than Jesus? He was a vegetarian.
I just finished reading that book about a week ago. It provided a lot of food for thought. I guess in the earlier part of my life, “trusting God” basically meant reading the Bible and following the rules in it. And I’m sure Enns and others would still affirm that obedience and reading the Bible are important… but we have plenty of examples (whether from the scribes and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day, or from our own lives) of people reading the Bible a lot and following rules and still using it all as a tool to get what they want. Maybe knowing God starts out by acknowledging that he can’t ever be fully known by us, much less reduced to words in a book. I think you’re right that Jesus and what he did is a reason to trust. I believe that if Jesus is who he says he is, and did die and rise from the dead, then that action is enough for me to hold on to even if I’m still confused by other aspects of doctrine.
That’s an important point. It’s one thing to sit at a keyboard or tap on a phone or tablet and expound…
And I love the present continuous tense of the YLT:
He who is having my commands, and is keeping them, that one it is who is loving me, and he who is loving me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
It’s a state of being, not a one time thing. And notice especially the last part of that.
We can never “know” God. God is beyond understanding. However we can trust God.
We are aware that God exists when we have sufficient awareness that we are something more than the body, that we are spiritual being having physical experiences. We thus begin to realize that we are not alone. We can experience the Bliss and the Love of God, which is ever present. Loves may come and loves may go, but he One Love will forever flow. God is close to us, sustains the very life processes of our body. And we can also realize that we can call on God and the saints, "God’s people/ souls, for help.