So, let’s start at the top…literally, the very top. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the beginning.
I believe in God. Now, there are lots of gods out there, so let’s narrow this one down a bit. I believe in the Christian one, although perhaps a little differently to how some of my brothers and sisters envisage this.I believe that God has been, is and always will be. I believe that God is both he and she. In fact, he’s beyond that kind of categorisation. Over the millennia we’ve struggled to get that, so too often God has become He, with all sorts of negative connotations about how we view women in church…or religion in general.
I believe that God created the world, and that believing in God doesn’t mean you can’t believe in evolution. Some call it prime cause, I’m not sure how else to describe it other than that God kicked it all off. It seems that for some it’s impossible to accept that a Christian could believe both in God and evolution (both atheists and some kinds of Christians) because of what’s in Genesis, but then maybe they’re asking the Bible to do something that it just can’t. But that’s another post entirely…
If God is creator, that means that we’re all created and able to create…in other words that whatever is good and right that we create is divinely inspired, whether deemed ‘spiritual’ or ‘secular’ (such descriptors completely miss the point, to my mind…as someone once said, everything is spiritual).
I believe that God is in everything…not in a pantheistic sense, but in a sense that all of creation carries something of his image. Including us. If you didn’t get that from what’s written above, I think this is what the Genesis story is all about…and that this means we have to think about how we engage with all the rest of creation (human, animal, etc…). We need to love our neighbours without limits, extravagantly, in the same way that God loves his creation.
I believe that on one hand God is unchanging, and yet on the other he is constantly changing. What on earth does that mean? Well, God’s love for his creation is the same today as it’s always been. God’s desire to put everything right is the same today as it’s always been. But the way he’s trying to do that changes. We see that throughout our history…in the Bible, throughout the history of the church…that from time to time there are these huge seismic shifts in how he interacts with the world…but that isn’t problematic. We just don’t like the uncertainty that this brings and therefore prefer to envisage him as nice and safe…boxed up in a way that we can easily explain through simple doctrine statements. But God isn’t like that. C S Lewis describes him like this (through the voice of Mr Beaver): ““Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.””.
I realise this in itself causes all sorts of problems…for example, if God created everything, what about the crap stuff. Well, that is problematic. We could wheel out the old ‘free will’ apologetic, we could do all sorts of mental gymnastics…and yet I know I wouldn’t be able to explain away the rubbish. In other words, this is one of those grey areas that faith throws up – an area of tension that can’t and shouldn’t be explained away. Faith doesn’t mean understanding everything. Far from it. It involves loads more questions than answers, constantly pushing us forwards, never letting us settle into a nice, comfortable set of beliefs that doesn’t turn our world upside down every day. So…for whatever reason…creation is messed up. For that we are accountable. So is God. And maybe that’s the point of why he’s constantly at work throughout history to put everything back together…
That moves me nicely onto the next point…that for all of my attempts above, God is at once beyond description and yet demands explanation. So…whilst our words often let us down when we try to talk about God, thus frustrating those who don’t believe, we shouldn’t stop trying. Because maybe, somewhere in the middle of it all, we come up with a good way to make sense of what we’re experiencing. After all, that’s what theology is about. Making sense. That’s what science is about. Making sense.
I’ve read somewhere that science is basically the best guess based on the evidence in front of us. I see this description fitting perfectly how we understand God. I’ve made the statements above based on what I’ve experienced and on the experiences of many others before me. This is how I make sense of it.
Belief in God is messy. It’s not clear cut. There’s much to be explained still, however there’s much that we won’t ever be able to explain. I believe that there’s a whole lot that God needs to be held to account for (as described by the Psalmists and others in the Bible) and that our relationship with God is two way – that he desires us as much as we desire him.
Ok…that’s far too much already…and yet probably doesn’t even scratch the surface…but it’s where I’m starting.
What do you think?