Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Why Believe in God?

That was the question columnist Leonard Pitts addressed in a recent column.

Apparently Pitts had seen a billboard posing that question. Pitts spun it into a conversation with God.

God suggested that Pitts go ahead and answer the question. When Pitts started in about proof of God's existence, God cut him off and said the billboard wasn't questioning His existence. The billboard was asking, Why believe in Him?

Pitts' answer was that he believes in God because nothing else makes sense.
I need more than that.

The question reminded me of a concentration camp movie (might have been a version of Elie Wiesel's Night) in which prisoners put God on trial. On the question of whether they should believe in God as their Lord, one argument was no, God is not worthy of such worship because he is not good, He is not keeping His covenant with His chosen people. God was a bully who happened to be on our side for a while, the argument went, but He was never really good. And now He has turned on us and is allowing us to be wiped off the face of the Earth, so how can we possibly believe in Him?

The presence and effect of evil does not extinguish my belief in God for two reasons.

First, God has to allow evil or we are nothing more than robots, dolls in His menagerie, puppets on divine strings. If we are not free to do evil as well as good, then we are not free.

The critics will say that's a nice theory, but it doesn't do much good for the innocent people who, through no wrongdoing of their own, suffer harm or death because others choose to do evil. God sits up in His divine sky box and looks on while incredible horrors are committed against innocent people.

That brings me to the second reason: God took His own medicine. God became man. God the Father joined us as God the Son in the arena of life on Earth and suffered the consequences of allowing humans free will.

God the Son knew fear as well as suffering. During the agony in the garden, the Son asked the Father if there was another way to accomplish salvation without the torture and death that were imminent.

I've been told that Protestant churches display a cross instead of the crucifix (Jesus nailed to the cross) displayed in Catholic Churches. The point of Protestants is that the empty cross signifies that Jesus beat the cross. He is risen from the dead and in Heaven, not stuck forever on that cross.

True enough. It's the resurrection that confirms Jesus' divinity. But it's the Passion that confirms God was one of us and took his lumps right along with us. If I had the money, I'd affix a huge crucifix to the "Why believe?" billboard.

That's a lot of preaching for a layman. I'll stop before I get into trouble . . . if I haven't already.


OmaSteak said...

Having escaped from Catholic indoctrination, I remain an agnostic who does appreciate the beneficial impact that judaochristian "values" have had on the development of western civilization and law making. I still view religion like dandruff...something people love to spend a lot time, effort and money on...LOL!!! Seriously, I've seen way too many "good" people die and too many "bad" people live to believe there is some higher power pulling the strings somewhere.

Chip Maxwell said...


We agree! There is no higher power pulling strings. We're not puppets. Even God Himself, in the Person of Jesus, was a victim of the exercise of free will in the world.