Thursday, February 11, 2010
Choosing to Believe?
I have a question that gnaws at me sometimes, and I thought I'd write about it here and see what you think.
(This is taken almost verbatim from the comments on a previous post, so if you read that it may feel like déjà vu.)
I often hear Christians encouraging others to "just believe" or talking about how people need to believe the right things. I know that our beliefs are important. In fact it is often our beliefs about God that will drive the way we live our lives.
The problem is, I don't know how much choice we have as to what we believe. I suppose this may get into free will/election theories and conversations, but can one really choose to believe anything?
I believe what I believe because I believe it. I don't think that's circular reasoning. I just think it's true.
I believe that the sky is blue. If it was somehow revealed to me that it was red, I don't know that I could believe it. I might try, I might act like I believe it, but I don't think deep down I could believe it.
Back when I was in high school, I remember listening to a bible teacher who was teaching about predestination and, by default (although he didn't call it this), double predestination, the Calvinist belief that God creates some people for salvation and some for destruction. And by destruction, he meant eternal, conscious torment.
I couldn't believe it. I still can't. I've read plausible defenses of this theory, I've had wonderful, godly people show me how it all works and how the bible teaches it. I have tried desperately to believe it, and even pretended at times to believe it. I can't do it.
I guess that's what I mean by not being able to choose what we believe.
On the other hand, I acted like I believed in egalitarianism (women are equal to men in all roles in the home and church) and wanted to believe in egalitarianism before I actually did. When I finally DID believe, it wasn't a choice. It was an "aha" moment, an awakening. A moment in time when my desires and teachings finally matched my true beliefs. My convictions.
So, that's a lot to think about. I have always wondered why people seems to think beliefs are so easy to come by. "Just believe in Jesus" they say. If it were only that easy.
Atheists use this reasoning all the time, and frankly I understand and appreciate it! In much the same way that I cannot believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they say they simply cannot believe in God.
I get it. I'm grateful that I have a deep down belief in/conviction that God is real and that I am in a relationship with Him through Jesus. But I don't think it's anything I did... I believe in Jesus like breathing. I just do. Thanks be to God, and may it be for everyone.
Maybe I just proved predestination?