Why I Don’t Believe in God Anymore

I don’t believe in God anymore. I used to, though.

This is a choice I’ve made. “Belief” in God connotes–at least as I see it–a set of ideas about God that may, if time allows, eventually make their way to other parts of my being.

The older I get, making sure all my “beliefs” of God are lined up as they should be loses more  and more of its luster. I see the Bible focusing a lot more on something far more demanding: trust.

Try it. Which is harder to say? I believe in God or I trust God?

I see a huge difference between “I believe in a God who cares for me” and “I trust God at this particular moment.” The first is a bit safer, an article of faith. The latter is unnerving, risky–because I have let go.

You’ve all heard of the “trust fall.” There’s a reason they don’t call it a “belief fall.” Belief  can reside in our heads. Trust is doing it, risking it. Trust is humility, putting ourselves in the hand of another. Trust requires something of us that belief doesn’t.

When God promises Abraham that he will have more offspring than the stars in the sky, translations of the next verse conventionally say that Abraham “believed” God. (Genesis 15:6)

“Believe” isn’t the right word there. “Trust” is. The Hebrew word is the same one we get “amen” from. “Amen” is not a social cue that grace is finished and it’s time to eat. It is the final word in the prayer: we’re done talking now, Lord, and we now move to trust.

God promised an old man a lot of kids. Abraham trusted God to come through. That is way harder than believing. Believing has wiggle room. Trusting doesn’t.

The same thing holds for the gospel. “Believing” in God–or even having “faith” in him–doesn’t cut it. At least the way these words are used today.

Beliefs can be collated into a “belief system”–an intellectual construction of what sorts of things are right to think and not think about God. Followers of Jesus, however, are called to do something much harder.

Jesus tells a famous story about why those who follow him need not worry about anything. Don’t fret about how much you have, what you wear, or what you will eat. Don’t worry. Trust. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Jesus illustrates the point in what at first blush seems rather off topic–at best marginally helpful. He tells us to consider the grass of the field and the birds of the sky. Look at them, Jesus says. They’re doing just fine and they don’t worry for a second.

Of course they don’t worry, Jesus, because they are–if I’m not mistaken–grass and birds. Grass doesn’t have a brain and birds are skittish little things that fly into windows. These things aren’t really relevant, Jesus, because, you see, by definition, Jesus, these things are incapable of worry.

And when you put it that way, you can see the profound point–and challenge–of what Jesus is saying: worry should be as impossible for us as it is for grass and birds. His followers–if they get it–should be as incapable of worry as insentient grass and bird-brained birds.

“Believing in God” doesn’t get you to that place Jesus is describing here. Belief leaves room for worry. Trust explodes it.

What a way to live.

The older I get, the less interested I am in believing and the more I am in trusting. That takes a lot of practice. In my experience, God seems more than willing to provide plenty of opportunities.

  • Celucien Joseph

    Dear Peter:
    I am very encouraged by this insightful post.
    Thanks,
    Celucien Joseph

  • mhill

    wonderfully done, sir

  • mhill

    also, i like this line: “Believing has wiggle room. Trusting doesn’t” . . . another way to think of it: belief has grades, trust doesn’t . . you’re either trusting – doing it – or you’re not . . trust is on or off; it is digital, whereas belief is analog . . in my experience, not having this revelation and experiencing the “analogness” of belief (not trust) is very difficult . . with trust though, it doesn’t matter how you feel, how “sure” you think you are, what new data comes in to consider, etc. . . as you say, it matters what you *do* (“Trust is doing it, risking it.”)

    anyway, thanks again for the great article . . very important for believers ( :) ) to hear . .

    • peteenns

      Well put, fellow believer :-)

    • John Evans

      Trust is binary? I would contest that. There are certainly people in my life I would trust to return $100 I had put in their hands for safekeeping, but I would be uncertain how things might change if the amount was $1 million, or if the request to not check their email on my computer when I was out of the room.

  • http://www.jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

    ‘Faith’ is a bad, bad word. It has lost its genuine meaning. Whether or not that is Luther’s fault is difficult to say, but it goes there somewhere. We should replace the word ‘faith’ with ‘fidelity’. That way, God too can exercise faith.

  • http://www.jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

    Incidentally, if you accept what I said in my previous comment, it gets rid of the ridiculous antipathy between ‘faith’ and ‘works’. Faith actually consists of ‘works’. James’s letter is an attack on the misuse of the term ‘faith’.

  • http://www.michaelpahl.com Michael Pahl

    Kind of puts “faith statements” in perspective. They are descriptions/confessions/narratives of “who we trust and why we trust him” – which makes it seem really odd to use them as litmus tests for determining the genuineness or completeness of people’s “trust.”

    • rvs

      Good point.

  • orton1227

    Words change their meaning over time, we all know that. Many translations of the Bible have chosen to use the word ‘believe’ and I think that’s an accurate translation in most cases.

    The big difference for me is the difference between a believer (someone who has been redeemed) and a disciple (someone who has been redeemed and acts like it). Since my personal committment to being a disciple, I’ve seen my doubts melt away. There actually is a close, intimate communion with our Creator, but it requires more work/time than we choose to give it.

  • http://dpitch40.blogspot.com David P

    If there was ever a post I was tempted to respond to based solely on the title…

    But anyway, this is an important and challenging point for Christians to keep in mind. People will often compare Paul and James and ask, “Who is right? Are we saved by works AND faith, or by faith alone?” In reality, they are drawing two different contrasts: Paul between trust and legalistic self-righteousness, and James (like you) between trust and belief (using the terminology in this post). Both are important to keep in mind. Also goes to show how modern connotations of words (like “belief”) can imperceptibly lead us away from what the apostles were originally getting at.

    • http://www.jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

      I don’t think Paul is talking about ‘legalistic self-righteousness’, but about the insistence of some Jewish Christians that inclusion in God’s covenantal people entailed adherence to the boundary markers of the Mosaic law, prominently circumcision, sabbath and purity. We need to be careful not to conflate being ‘saved’ and being justified.

      • http://dpitch40.blogspot.com David P

        Right. That was me projecting the “works righteousness” narrative I am so often warned about in church onto the Bible… What would you say the difference between being saved and being justified is according to Paul?

        • http://www.jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

          Being justified is the pronouncement by God that one is in the right, that is, that one is a member of God’s covenant people. One is no longer an outsider — a gentile — but a sharer in the covenant guaranteed by God’s own faithfulness. It is a legal status that is declared on the initial basis of belief in the resurrection of Jesus and baptism, and continues to be declared on the basis of a life lived in consistent obedience to those initial commitments. Salvation, or being saved, is, on the other hand, the transformation of life by means of following Jesus, from corruption and death, to incorruption and life. I hope these observations help.

          • Luke A. Littlecloser

            John, I have my magnification lens out but can’t find any real difference between justification and salvation, even in your explanation of the difference. As I look at it, if there were two groups of people, one justified and one saved, are you saying they are standing in two separate rooms or in the same room? If they are in two separate rooms, please explain how there are two such destinations, Biblically. If they are in the same room (final destination) then I would suggest your distinctions are moot.

          • http://www.jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

            Luke, I don’t think you can have read what I wrote. Maybe you should clean your lens. Nobody said anything about two groups of people. The difference is not between different sets of people but between different concepts and meanings of words. You should be able to conceive, I hope, that different things happening to the same people don’t have to be synonymous. You are focussing only on destination and not on process, which is a standard problem in evangelical thinking. Salvation is a big concept, of which it can truly be said, ‘I have been saved; I am being saved; I shall be saved.’ Those three tenses all apply to different aspects of the salvation process. Justification is a much narrower matter, which concerns God’s legal declarations and says nothing about the transformation of the person. If your view of salvation is the narrow idea of being forgiven for sin and thus sent to heaven, that might explain your problem in conflating the two concepts. I repeat, because things happen to (or in) the same persons, that doesn’t make those things the same. Why does it matter? Because if you conflate salvation and justification you will automatically misread nearly every mention of justification in the NT.

  • Craig Combs

    My dear brother Pete, I was taught (the same as you) that faith is more than assent to a proposition (though it is not less than that). Faith is trust in a promise, which necessarily means trust in the person who made the promise. Is this not all that you have said, really? Is that really new? Help me out.

    • Joe

      “Is that really new?” — maybe not
      Is that really practiced? — not as often as one would think.
      Christians have been taught for centuries to turn ‘faith’ into the opposite of what it is. Faith does not lead to more certainty. It leads to less, or else it is not truly faith in a God who is completely free.

  • orton1227

    We should also consider John 4 – the samaritan woman at the well. Many in her town (and herself) believed based on “He told me everything I ever did; could He be the Messiah?” This is within hours of her meeting Jesus for the first time. Can trust be born in that short of time? If so, I assume it was God-given. And if so, then it still is that way.

    I think we’ve become warped by western philosophy and trying to systematize and dichotomize everything. Do I “believe” in God? Yes, if belief is an acknowledgment of what is true. Yes, if belief is trust that He fulfills His promises and is who He says He is. Do I “trust” in God? Absolutely. Do I “love” God. Absolutely. Maybe all these words are our best attempts at trying to describe a larger truth. Much like trying to break down the atonement. There are so many reasons for the cross. But collectively, they are pointing to something much more – something literally indescribable.

  • http://rwtyer.blogspot.com Rory Tyer

    I agree with your point in many ways. But- two counterpoints, both of which might merit your feedback but only the latter of which is really a question.

    1. “Belief” and its cognates in John’s Gospel are far richer than the modern “belief is a mental state I affirm” conception you’re talking about here, and I think it is important to challenge meanings in this way, based on a thicker (more accurate, more true) reading of Scripture and theology (as someone like Dallas Willard does in Divine Conspiracy and Knowing Christ Today);
    2. Suppose we take what you’ve said here, internalize it, and then attempt to think along the grain of a verse like this: “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.” (1 John 2:21-22). It appears the author is prioritizing certain beliefs about Jesus – factual statements which one could either deny or affirm – in instructing a community on how to evaluate certain sorts of teaching and certain teachers. For the author, this sort of instruction doesn’t seem to obviously contradict his statements on the centrality of love (which you blogged about recently). At this point, how would you suggest a Christian allow herself to be formed by this text? Should she: (a) Acknowledge that the authors of Scripture were able to make such statements but believe that she is not in a position to pattern her own reasoning after this text because of its seeming emphasis on correct beliefs; (b) Acknowledge what it says but see herself as at a remove from the cultural conditions that made such statements about others possible; (c) Acknowledge what it says, take it in seamless context with its affirmations of the centrality of love, and recognize that there are different *ways of believing* things, different ways of holding beliefs, some of which both pass the “love test” and also involve forming something very much like a “belief system,” and others of which fall victim to your criticisms here (but notice that she has held on to the importance of what might be called propositional truths); or (d) something else? Some combination?

    I am not trying to bait you – what I am interested in hearing is your reappropriation of this Scripture after passing through a process of differentiation such as you’ve outlined above (“beliefs” vs. “trust”), since obviously that is the further pressing question for people who might acknowledge the rightness of what you’ve said here but also feel a continuing obligation to be shaped and normed by Scripture.

  • CraigCregger

    Good thoughts to remind us about belief vs. trust – but, its not really new, even in Fundamentalist groups. This argument goes back to the old 1970′s gospel tract narrative of the tightrope walker who asked the man if he “believed” he could cross Niagara Falls with a wheelbarrow. Everyone remembers the next line: the man said “yes”, and then the tightrope walker said “get in”.

    So, this is a good reminder of those differences. But, I hope my comment also illustrates that even Fundamentalists have maintained that difference as well.

  • Jacob Claassen

    Wow thank you for that, you shined a whole new light on faith and believing in god that I think all Christians should try to see

  • http://meaninginhistory.blogspot.com/ mark

    Yes, the Greek word normally translated “faith” (pistis) is probably better understood these days by something like “trust.” The reason, as was noted above by John Shakespeare, is that certainly since the time of Luther “faith” has taken on the meaning of “subjective (and, therefore, essentially arbitrary) certainty.” Traditionally, “faith” had been understood as “reasonable belief.” If you have a reasonable belief there is some objective grounds for your belief and you therefore also have grounds to trust.

    Josef Pieper, the German thinker, wrote a wonderful little book called Belief and Faith, which went into the the whole issue of the proper (and improper) understanding of “faith.” Sadly, it appears to be out of print. However, there is a later collection of his essays, Faith, Hope, Love, that appears to contain the essay on faith.

    In fairness to Luther, like so many things that later went wrong in European and Western history there is a medieval (or, more specifically, Augustinian) background to the corruption of the idea of “faith” from reasonable belief into the meaning “subjective certainty.” For anyone interested in that background and its continuing influence I’ve written (with useful references) re the nature of specifically Augustinian thought and the general influence of Augustinian thought on the West, on the development of Augustinian thought in later medieval philosophy, specifically as regards how faith came to be regarded as a realm beyond the scope of reason, and how this led to the crisis in Western thought that continues to this day.

  • http://www.12lions.com Cameron

    This was way too convicting.

  • DAF

    Pete,
    Isn’t trust based on belief? What exactly are you trusting in if you don’t first believe in specific propositions (e.g, that God exists, that he loves you, etc.)? It sounds to me like you’re pulling the rug out from under yourself.

    • Anthony

      I’m not Pete, but this is a great question that I’d like to offer a thought on myself. I’ve come to the conclusion — after many years of also assuming that faith is based on belief — that faith actually is based on personal relationships. This is because — at the risk of opening a very large can of worms — I also have concluded that human experience of the presence of the divine (and human experience generally) is pre-linguistic. When we translate our experiences into language, we actually are abstracting from them and thereby leaving something out. Though the linguisitic representations of our relationships may be accurate as far as they go, they always are less rich than the original. Therefore, since propositions are linguisitic, they are only useful aids to building our relationship with God. They are not the same as the relationship itself. Ergo, faith is trust in that which the propositions point toward, but it should not be in those propositions themselves. When we do the latter, we run the risk of placing our faith in our representations of God rather than in God as God actually works in our hearts.

    • Mary

      It completely boggles my mind that so many people have come on here and completely missed Peter’s point. They want to argue about the semantics of the language, which was never his point to begin with. He was simply pointing out that many people believe God in a rather vague way as in a statement of faith, rather then trust God in their everyday lif

      • Mary

        Sorry that froze up: I meant “lives”

        • Mary

          I also see this article as a challenge to how we live our lives, rather than a theological point to be argued about. Sometimes our thinking gets in the way of understanding, this article was aimed for the heart, not the head.
          The point that Peter made about the word “Amen” It’s literal translation is “It is so.” It is an affirmation.

  • JojoL

    Err, Pete…maybe you made a typo. The passage is Matthew 6:25-34, and not Matthew 7? The point is well-taken though. Good post, thanks.

  • Tony M

    Get out of my head Dr. Enns. :) I’ve been formulating something like this for a while now and you just put good words to my jumbled mess. Thanks!

  • http://www.evidence2hope.com Graham

    I’ve often said “I have faith not religion” and this looks like a deeper way of expressing that….you’re making me think again lol

  • Craig H Robinson

    How do you trust in a God that you don’t believe in? At a bare minimum, don’t you have to at least believe He exists and believe He is good? And once you’ve done that, don’t you have an initial set of beliefs?

    • Joe

      It is almost inevitable that people will take the ‘initial set of beliefs’ and then begin to put their trust in that rather than in a God who cannot be delineated and circumscribed by our language. The reason that the majority position in Christianity hasn’t emphasized God’s love (above all) is that this would put God beyond our ability to control. It gives us more confidence to reckon that ‘God is love’ but… you have to follow these same steps that I did. Or you need to be part of this type of community. Or you need to be careful to exclude certain people from being able to be full recipients of God’s love. Otherwise, we are truly powerless, having no semblance of control over whom God loves and under what condition he loves. So various spiritually-sounding platitudes emerge, like: “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

  • Matt

    Can you trust something which isn’t real, or true? Doesn’t trusting in something imply that there is indeed something which exists in order to trust? The OT use of he’emin does imply trusting, but also implies believing in the working out of promise stated. The NT use of pisteuo largely implies placing trust into something which is proven to be true. Trust is the necessary consequence of belief.

    The merit of your post is encouraging. However, how can you trust something which you don’t know to be true? If we say, “God is unknowable and mysterious and therefore i cannot know if he actually exists, but i trust he does,” then what is the point? What is the point? Following a God without knowing him to be real is nothing more than a moralistic atheism. The Lord gave us his Word, in both language and flesh, and we can know and believe and trust – all necessary.

    Thanks for your encouragement and thoughtfulness

    • Joe

      Matt,
      It’s not a question of wondering whether God is real or not. Christians have generally made up their minds on this – usually on the basis of experience, not intellect. The real issue is the tendency on the part of western Christianity to be highly overconfident in presuming to speak for God. Certainly we believe that we have a sufficient knowledge of God. But this is rarely tempered with sufficient humility.

  • http://pastoralia.org Jason Coker

    Peter, this is a clever bit of writing, but in all honesty it appears to me that what you’ve done is merely shift the burden from “making sure my beliefs of god are lined up as they should be” to “making sure my anxieties about god are lined up as they should be.” Moreover, you commend the latter to us by virtue of its being even more stringent, i.e. “Believing has wiggle room. Trusting doesn’t.”

    Call me crazy, but if I’m going to be confined, I’d prefer a bit of wiggle room.

  • Will

    I don’t believe in God anymore because it’s 2013 and I’m too old to believe in fairy tales.

  • Nick Gotts

    His followers–if they get it–should be as incapable of worry as insentient grass and bird-brained birds.

    Right – because in following him, they’ll have made themselves into birdbrains.
    Seriously, this dribble is contemptible: of course we should worry about what we, and those for whom we have responsibility, are going to eat and wear. Failure to do so is, conversely, grossly irresponsible.

  • Mike Sangrey

    Years ago, when my mom was told she had diabetes, I was trained in the fine art of giving shots. In that training, the nurse explained how needle technology had so advanced that today’s needles didn’t cause any pain. I believed her. And I honestly, sincerely, confidently told her so. “I believe you,” I said.

    Then the nurse responded with, “Good! ‘Cause you’re going to stick it in your arm.”

    At that moment I was completely, utterly, astounded by the argument that was going on in my head between “belief” (defined as I believed) and “belief” (ie PISTIS) as the Bible uses it. James and Paul became a single composite–one cohesive meaning.

    There’s ‘faith’ (so-called). And then there’s trust. For what it’s worth, I’ve thought of the concept in terms of ‘commitment’, but it amounts to the same point Peter makes. English separates ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’. PISTIS did not.

    Thank you.

  • Mike Sangrey

    Pete,
    I suggest your reading of the Matthean passage misses its point.

    If one is committed to one’s own needs, if that’s the focus, then one believes (and even trusts) in a God to meet those needs. But, the problem is that in those cases, PISTIS (commitment or faithfulness) is in the abstract concept of having one’s needs met. Basically, it’s a commitment to comfort of at least a minimal level.

    However, that’s not what the birds and flowers were doing. Their commitment, which they were performing quite faithfully, was to show the glory of God (the beauty, the design, the awe of God).

    So, when our objective, that is, the object of our faith, our trust, our commitment, is God and Jesus, then our comfort (even the meeting of basic needs) becomes secondary.
    Obviously, meeting basic needs is necessary. This fact underscores Jesus’ point. But, that’s not the topic of the text. The topic of the text, which gets confused by our injecting into that text our definition of ‘belief’, seeks to answer the question, “What are you committed to?”

    That’s how I read it.

  • http://baruchblogos.com David Baruch

    Pete,
    I really enjoyed this post. It is a very interesting way to reformulate these concepts. But wouldn’t you say that faith is a concept which involves risk, and this is a good thing? The possibility that something could go wrong, or the acknowledgement of something not being right. It seems to me that a different sort of lens must be worn in order to see trust by the nature of the reality of sin and suffering in the world. That which puts its hope in something by that which is not yet seen. Or, must we always accept and know that things can be seen in the here and now, trusting that they will come to pass? But is this not, in attempting to trust, acknowledging that what I am trusting in is something that will come, meaning it is a future event not in the here and now. If it is a future event then it by nature is faith as the action of acknowledging that it will come even though it is not yet seen? How do you formulate trust in the midst of suffering and sin without the concept of belief? Please help me understand how you see this. How do you then understand hope?

    Sincerely,

    David Baruch

  • Jill

    This post reminds me of a story I read about Mother Theresa. A man, an ethicist named John Kavanaugh, went to India to work with her for a period of time in helping the sick and dying. When he arrived, she asked him what she could do for him. He asked her to pray that he might have clarity. She firmly told him “no” and said that clarity was something he was clinging to that he needed to let go of. When he said that she seemed to have clarity, she replied that she had trust, not clarity. She then told him she would pray for him to have trust.

    • Nick Gotts

      Why anyone would think anything said by a sadistic, hypocritical suck-up to tyrants such as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu is worth paying attention to, I’ve no idea.

  • Jill

    This post reminds me of a story I read about Mother Teresa. A man, an ethicist named John Kavanaugh, went to India to work with her for a period of time at her House of the Dying. When he arrived, she asked him what she could do for him. He asked her to pray that he might have clarity. She firmly told him “no” that she would not pray for him to have clarity. She said clarity was something he was clinging to that he needed to let go of. When told her that she seemed to have clarity, she replied that she didn’t have clarity, only trust. She then told him she would pray for him to have trust.

  • Jill

    Sorry about the double, nearly identical comments!! Technical glitch. It seemed my initial comment didn’t go through so I did another.

  • Marshall

    Mark: “subjective (and, therefore, essentially arbitrary) certainty.”

    Right, and when you put it that way there’s an unavoidable conflict with science and other evidence-based analysis. Totally unnecessary when “belief” is recast as “trust”. “Trust” acknowledges the mystery that “belief” denies. I also like to think about “understanding”: “He who understands what I am saying and lives it out will have a life in eternity.”

  • reverend robbie

    It’s interesting to see the analogy to the “trust fall”. Has anyone attempted the act without people there and trusted God to catch them? I know the standard response is that God doesn’t respond to trivial tests, but I think that’s itself an important point: people who are trustworthy are willing to demonstrate their trustworthiness to others when asked.

    • Nick Gotts

      No fair! You’re asking God to actually, you know, do something, but he’s severely handicapped by his non-existence.

      • Gary in FL

        Nick, irrespective of this post’s title, this is a believer’s blog. Troll elsewhere.

        • Nick Gotts

          If Pete Enns asks me not to comment here, I’ll comply with his request. Yours? Not so much.

  • John Gordon

    I “believe” that there is cash in my bank account. I trust my debit card will go through to pay for my date…

  • http://patheos.com jason greene

    Pete get ready to be kicked off of the Evangelical sight and moved over to the Progressive sight. I understand exactly what you are saying and I trust that God does too.

  • Beau Quilter

    Pete,

    According to the Population Reference Bureau, the best estimation for the total number of humans that have ever lived is between 107 and 108 billion.

    According to a recent astronomical study in Nature, the total number of stars in the universe is approximately 300 sextillion (that’s a 3 followed by 23 zeroes).

    Even if you could credit every human ever born as a “child of Abraham”, God’s promise to
    Abraham is short by more than 299 sextillion children. It appears that Abraham misplaced his trust.

    Yeah, I know I’m being way t0o literal. And I do think that there are things worth trusting in. I trust that I am loved by my friends and family. To a lesser extent I trust that the guy in the next lane on the interstate isn’t planning to veer over and collide with me. I could be wrong on both counts, but having a little trust helps me to move on with my life in meaningful ways.

    I don’t, on the other hand, find it meaningful or helpful to trust in the words of a 1st century apocalyptic rabbi, who encouraged all of his followers to sell everything they had, leave their families, and follow him, all in the hope of his triumphant return from heaven within their own lifetimes.

    That’s just my heathen two cents on the topic of trust.

    • John

      I’m with you on not trusting the now supposedly sacred sayings of someone who obviously, to me anyway, took himself way too seriously in the end, but . . . didn’t Jesus have something important to say about human nature which marks him out as a wise man worthy of our respect? Jesus raged against the evil which exists in all of us, perhaps hated it so much that it distorted his view of reality to the point that he thought God had to be coming to set things straight. I don’t think for a moment he saved us from human evil, otherwise this so-called realized kingdom of God of his followers wouldn’t be like it is, but the relics of his ministry serve as a kind of witness to the worth of self-criticism. Why do you call me good?, he once asked. I think he really meant it.

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  • Roberta

    Extreemly inspirational!

  • david

    With respect, this entire article is based on semantics. Trying to dissect the word ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ and ‘trust’ into uniquely separate entities under the ideology that such a separation can actually define a truer relationship with God loses the point that Jesus was trying to make – that He’ll take care of you if you believe he will/trust that he will/have faith that he will. Saying that I ‘obey’ God could be argued to have a greater connotation, or that I ‘follow’ God even… but ultimately it is all semantics, because what matters is a person’s RESPONSE to God.

    Because responding to God speaks louder than any article or statement can – when He says carry your cross and you do, you state unequivocally that you TRUST HIM, and you BELIEVE HIM and that you OBEY HIM.

  • http://mmgutz.wordpress.com Melissa

    I heard a Zen monk recently talk about how the question “Do you believe in God, yes or no?” is largely a western individual commercial phenomenon. It’s our way of sizing up each other, or categorizing people in our heads without really getting to know each other. Whether we believe in God or not is like a “code word” for some set of ideas about the world….. but in my opinion, in our typically super-busy society where we generally just do small talk and move on, it keeps us from really getting to ask each other what that belief really means, or what we really mean when we say we do or don’t. The Zen monk said that God’s existence used to be just an obvious “duh” for people, that it didn’t use to even be something people questioned.

    I don’t mind that “this entire article is based on semantics”; I actually think that’s a perfect point. Words are fluid and I wish that people of faith would spend more time exploring that…. Not everything is a 1:1 correlation, ESPECIALLY in Biblical translation. It doesn’t matter if you think the earth is 2000 years old or a bajillion; the extreme degree of change in even the past fifty years of Biblical interpretation is jaw-dropping. Thanks for pushing us to examine how/whether we mean what we say, and to spend more time looking at what God says (and what that actually means, that God said something), and to believe that God means what he says when he says not to worry because he is good.

    • Nick Gotts

      God’s existence used to be just an obvious “duh” for people, that it didn’t use to even be something people questioned.

      I’m surprised that a Zen monk should say such a thing, as I understood Zen, like most schools of Buddhism, is non-theistic.
      I’ll leave it to theists to say what they mean when they say they believe in God, but when I say I don’t believe in God, I mean I don’t believe in God; just as when I say I don’t believe in leprechauns, I mean I don’t believe in leprechauns.

  • http://www.jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

    I’ve tried repeatedly to post a reply to Luke, but the system doesn’t post it, and when I try again it accuses me of sending a duplicate.

    Here’s another try:
    Luke, I don’t think you can have read what I wrote. Maybe you should clean your lens. Nobody said anything about two groups of people. The difference is not between different sets of people but between different concepts and meanings of words. You should be able to conceive, I hope, that different things happening to the same people don’t have to be synonymous. You are focussing only on destination and not on process, which is a standard problem in evangelical thinking. Salvation is a big concept, of which it can truly be said, ‘I have been saved; I am being saved; I shall be saved.’ Those three tenses all apply to different aspects of the salvation process. Justification is a much narrower matter, which concerns God’s legal declarations and says nothing about the transformation of the person. If your view of salvation is the narrow idea of being forgiven for sin and thus sent to heaven, that might explain your problem in conflating the two concepts. I repeat, because things happen to (or in) the same persons, that doesn’t make those things the same. Why does it matter? Because if you conflate salvation and justification you will automatically misread nearly every mention of justification in the NT.

  • AJ

    I struggle with Jesus’ commands to not worry. His argument seems to be along the lines of, 1) Don’t worry because it won’t add to your life; and 2) Don’t worry because God will take care of your food and clothes. #1 seems like airtight logic. But I wrestle with #2 because sometimes people do die of starvation; that is, God does allow the very things we fear to happen.

    At face value, God seems to be promising no starvation will come to believers.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Saint Faustyna, a Catholic Saint who had visions of Jesus and Our Lady in the 1930′s, wrote down everything she experienced and saw in her diary ‘Divine Mercy in mt Soul’ She said that the greatest number of people who go to hell are those who don’t believe it exists.
    An excerpt from her Diary:

    “Today, I was led by an angel to the Chasms of Hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw:
    The First Torture that constitutes hell is:
    The loss of God.
    The Second is:
    Perpetual remorse of conscience.
    The Third is
    That one’s condition will never change.
    The Fourth is:
    The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger.
    The Fifth Torture is:
    Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.
    The Sixth Torture is:
    The constant company of Satan.
    The Seventh Torture is:
    Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.
    These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.

    Indescribable Sufferings
    There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.

    There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.

    No One Can Say There is No Hell
    Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like…how terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.” (Diary 741)
    Think about this if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and your Savior, who suffered indescibable suffering for you and I to have eternal Salvation—and here are posts saying He doesn’t exist?
    Think about your moment of death, when there will be before you one thing: your good works, detachment from wordly pleasures, Love of God and neighbor–how did you live your life? For yourself only?

    Please read Matthew 25:31-46 in the bible. Jesus Himself describes in detail how he will judge all nations.

    I invite you to go to a site called ‘Catholic Bible 101, this will be a good starting point for you–become a believer–you will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord, not rotting in hell.
    God Bless you all.

    • Nick Gotts

      You describe an eternal torture chamber that you believe is maintained by God, and end your post with “God Bless you all”. If you are correct, then God is, literally, infinitely more evil than Hitler, so “Hitler Bless you all” would be far less offensive.

  • cken

    A lot of wordsmiths commenting here. In my opinion the biblical meaning of faith is the ability to believe to the very fiber of your being the things we can’t perceive with our five senses. Trust is to believe without second thought someone will fulfill an obligation or promise. Ergo it is necessary to have faith in, and I might add love God, before you can trust Him.

  • Bob

    I get concerned about a persons opinion when basic facts about the bible our not correct. Matthew 6 you quoted does not mention grass. If your going to have an opinion abuot god at least read the bible.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Nick

    You read what Saint Fastyna described and you still doubt?

    The Book of relelations in the Bible describes Lucifer, the most beautiful of all the angels wanted to be God, equal to Him which is impossibl eand offensive to God.

    In a great battle, Saint Michael the ArchAngel cast Lucifer and 1/3 of the Angelswho are in league with him were cast into hell, yes, created by God for them. Some of them wander the earth, tempting persons to commit sin, which is very offensive to God. These persons must repent.

    Then Adam and Eve were created, Eve ate the fruit which God told them not to eat. When they disobeyed God, this is called ‘Original sin’. They were both banished from Eden, and the gates of heaven were closed.

    This sin caused the gated of Heaven to be closed to all mankind. When Jesus suffered incredible torture and crucifiction, and death, this re-opened the gates of Heaven for all. Jesus paid the ultimate price for you and I and everyone .

    He died for you Nick. Recognize that he shed His Blood for you. Now you must do your part by believing in Him, and having faith in Him.

    Jesus said ” Blessed are they who have not seen, but believe”
    He also said that “if you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven.”
    He also said “the standard by which you judage others is the way you will be judged”

    Read my words carefully, because at this point your eyes are closed. Open them to Christ, ask him to help you, talk to Him. Start with this simple prayer “Jesus, I trust in you”–your journey to know and love God will then begin.

    I will pray for you every day, so that you may be given the gift of faith. God Bless you.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Nick

    God cannot be compared to hitler , hitler killed millions against their will, that is an outrage, let’s have a rational discussion about the existance of God, you don’t know what you are saying when you call Him hitler.

    In saying that, God gives us free will to believe in Him or not. He allows us to sin or not sin.
    He allows all kinds of atrocities to happen because he will not interfere with man’s free will.
    At times he performs miracles for us.

    Who creates war, God or man? That’s an easy one. Man.
    And you can’t tell me why does God allow war, because to you there is no God.

    I merely described where you will go if you die not
    believing in Him and following His laws–hell.

    Read carefully again Saint Faustyna’s visitation of hell, and how she said that no one can’t say there is no hell, because she is an eyewitness.

    Where some of our laws come from? We created some laws?

    Thou shall not steal, though shall not kill, you will not falsely accuse someone—these are God’s laws
    and we ahve incorporated them into our secular laws.

    Think about it. If God doesn’t exist, then how and where did these laws come about?

    Please read what I write thoroughly, don’t come back at me by taking words out of context.

    God Bless you

    • Nick Gotts

      You, believe “God” intends to torture people forever. That is infinitely more evil than anything Hitler did. You really are an astoundingly arrogant person in the way you think you are entitled to issue orders to me. You are not. You wouldn’t be even if your God existed. I don’t take orders with regard to how to live my life from anyone, least of all someone who worships infinite (although fortunately imaginary) evil, as you do.

      You read what Saint Fastyna described and you still doubt?

      No, I don’t “doubt”: that suggests Christianity is a coherent set of beliefs that could possibly be true, which it isn’t. Saint Fastyna obviously had serious issues, as people say; there’s no reason at all to take her ravings seriously.

      The Book of relelations in the Bible

      Actually, it’s called The Revelation of St. John the Divine. I’ve read it: it’s ludicrous nonsense from beginning to end.

      Then Adam and Eve were created

      No such persons ever existed.

      Jesus paid the ultimate price for you and I and everyone .

      So, God was exceeding wroth with human beings because he created us imperfect, so he sacrificed himself to himself to appease his anger? That makes no sense whatsoever; if he wanted to forgive us, he could just forgive us. And as it happens, many people have suffered far worse in dying than Jesus, without supposedly getting brought back to life afterwards.

      I will pray for you every day, so that you may be given the gift of faith.

      Just so you know, that’s a very insulting thing to say to an atheist. You might also note that Jesus is reported to have told his followers not to boast about praying, but to do it privately.

      At times he performs miracles for us.

      There are no adequately documented accounts of miracles anywhere, at any time. Do you credit the miracles claimed by Muslims and Hindus? Those claimed by Christians are no more plausible.

      Think about it. If God doesn’t exist, then how and where did these laws come about?

      Unlike you, I actually have thought about this. Laws against murder, theft and false witness, of course, precede the Bible – they are in the code of Hammurabi of Babylon, for example, but undoubtedly go back further than that. No human society could exist for long without norms of this kind, which became laws as soon as societies of sufficient size and complexity to require formal governance developed. Their origin is in our evolved nature as social and language-using organisms.

      • Nick Gotts

        The bolded paragraph was not intended to be bolded – I messed up the blockquoting.

  • http://ruthbergenbraun.com Ruth

    I happened upon your blog this morning — following a blog rabbit trail! I was presenting at our work clinical meeting within a few hours and although we don’t usually have a devotional to open, I asked if I could open by reading this posting. I believe it set the tone for the work we do together. Thank you for writing it!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Andy

    You are what’s called by Our Blessed Mother a” hardened sinner” with a frozen heart.

    I have said enough to you, I will be praying for your conversion.
    Praying for someone is one of the greatest gifts one can give to another.

    A man once approached Saint Padre Pio and told him that he doesn’t believe in God.
    Padre Pio answered “But God believes in you”

    No more corresponcdence with you, Andy, and I will be ignoring your coments.
    I will be corresponding with God for you in prayer.
    Just say “Jesus I trust in you” Is that too much to ask?

    By the way, nothing precedes the Bible. The Bible is the beginning of all things.

    God Bless you, and may God have Mercy on your soul.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Andy
    One more thing–telling me that I am boasting about praying for you is not boasting.
    I am anonymous. I could be anyone. No one knows who I am I could be male or female.
    If I was in a crowd, with real people present–that would be boasting.

    I tell people I will pray for them all the time, I only get thank you’s.
    Jesus told Simon Peter “I have been praying for you”

    Your answers are very puzzling, I suspect that your are at war with yourself, struggling whether there is truly a God or not. I sense alot of anger and hatred in you also.

    May the Holy Spirit send His graces upon you.
    Remember–think of your last moments on this earth–you will be as frightened as you’ve ever been.

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  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Connectio

    Both statements are not hard to say. They are equal.
    I f you trust in God, it believe in Him.

    God bless you

  • Tim

    A bit late coming to this but couldn’t help but leave a comment after having come to exactly the same conclusion after just finishing reading the first half of Isaiah where the message over and over again to Judah was trust God not the nations. And trust seemed to sum up God’s expectation of his people: take deliberate decisions not to do things that would appear sensible ways to ensure your safety. Jumping forward “trust” also makes sense of the set of NT statements about the difficulties for the rich of entering the kingdom of heaven. This makes no sense if the issue is about belief; it makes lots of sense if the call is to trust God and not something else (our own abilities, wealth etc). How to live a life of trusting God when you don’t have anything to worry about?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Jesus said “if you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven.”

    Jesus said ” Blessed are they who have not seen, but believe”

    ” I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.”

    ” I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live.”

    “…… in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”

    Jesus’ most painfu wounds, among hundreds:
    One in each wrist made by the nails that nailed his arms to the Cross.

    One in each ankle, made by one nail driven through both ankles at once as his leggs were twisted sideways on to the Cross

    One multiple wound across his head caused by the crown of thorns

    One made by the spear thrust in his side to ensure his death.

    (And that’s not counting the hundreds of lashes received when He was mercilessly flogged
    He was brutally tortured and nailed to the cross. People say “there have been worse ways of dying througout the ages by other people–but Jesus died and still loves us–that’s why this was the worst death in history.

    May the Holy Spirit send His graces upon you.
    Remember–think of your last moments on this earth–you will be as frightened as you’ve ever been if you have not lived your life according the laws and instructions of Christ–and love, believe and have faith in Him.

    • Mary

      Mark, you appear to have come on this website to convert others. That is not what this place is for. It is for an honest discussion of the issue at hand. If you want to give a sales pitch, go somewhere else.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Mary

    I am doing what Christ said I should do, and that is to convince people that by following in His footsteps, you will have eternal life. Most persons who have contributed comments to this site are lost, and I am here to show them the way.
    I you are denying God’s existance, then you are lost.
    Jesus said “if you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven.”
    Think of your last moments, you will be terrified like never before if you continue on the path you are on.
    By saying that that what I say is not what this site is all about, are you descriminating a point of view tat does not coincide with you own beliefs?
    Are there rules as to what one can say here? If so, mary please give me a list of them so I can be in commpliance.
    So, unless you are the owner of this site or a moderator, your comments are unrecognizable to me.
    I will continue to be here, until or if I am banished.

    Sorry I have disappointed you, Mary. My advice to you–here out another’s point of view, don’t stay in the box–think outside the box.

    PS–what is the issue at hand? What does that mean?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Nick

    You mentioned evil a few times in your previous comments.

    Evil is the opposite of good. What is considered ‘good’ if evil exists?

    And what is evil? Something defined by you? What’s your definition? I know you think God is evil,
    but is that all? What else do you consider evil? Please RSVP.

    God Bless you, may the Holy Spirit’s graces flow into your heart.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Nick, Mary, and everyone who contributed comments to this site:

    You will only be on this planet 7, 8, or possibly 9 decades. Is it worth it to deny God?
    Nick–you berated Saint Faustyna and her description of hell. Are you 100%, without any doubt,
    convinced that such a place does not exist? What if it does and you are wrong? God save your soul, I will be praying for you and Mary, and all who came here.

    Just say “Jesus, I trust in you”, and your journey to belief in God will begin, because He will hear you.
    I will pray for everyone here now:

    Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I offer You the most precious Body, Blood , Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages and indifference by which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/03/why-i-dont-believe-in-god-anymore/#comments Mark

    Jesus said “if you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven.”

  • http://love-god-love-others.blogspot.com Marperor

    Learning that faith & believe mean trust had one of the biggest impacts on my relationship with God.
    Thanks so much for writing this. I’m glad someone else is getting this out there.
    I wrote a large post on this myself – http://love-god-love-others.blogspot.com/2011/07/faith-trust-in-god.html

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  • Andrew Thorne

    Thank you for writing this, it has completely blown my mind and shown me how I can be a better christian.

  • Thehermit

    Oh I get it, Peter is a Christian. How funny. Read it again as an atheist, it totally works, I could have written it. But ad,would you really trust a prayer.

  • levi

    I see so many comments about hell. My intelligence tells me that a very loving, all powerful God full of goodness would never send one to hell in the first place. If a god were that loving and gentle, then why would he even create such a place?

    If someone sins, then why don’t god sit them down and explain it all to them? Instead, he throws you into a burning lake of fire. Why? Because you didn’t obey his rules?

    I’m sorry, but if you believe in something because you have a fear of being burned up, or being tormented because you didn’t obey a certain set of rules, then that’s not love… that’s slavery!

  • Daniel Joseph

    Yeah hell makes perfect sense, eternal punishment for a finite crime? Doesn’t sound like an all wise or all knowing god to me.

    • <3jesus

      You do not go to hell for your crimes. Yes u r sinning but it’s different. If u don’t accept The Lord to be in your life or don’t trust or beleive in him then u will go to hell. Ways has died for our sins, we do not go to hell because if them that dept it paid

  • http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com/ steve finnell

    TRUST GOD OR NOT?

    When Christians are ask if they trust God; most would respond in the affirmative. Do Christians really believe God is trustworthy?

    How do Christian respond when asked, do they believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God? For many, the trust, in God starts to wane at this point. An all too common reply, is of course the Bible is God’s word, however, the Scriptures were recorded and translated into other languages my mere men. We know men make mistakes.

    What is mystifying to me is how believers in Christ can proclaim that they believe God created the heavens and the earth, but do not believe God has the power to direct men to record and translate His word without error. Would that be a God you could trust?

    Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone , but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (NASB)

    Jesus said men should live on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. How would that be possible if the Bible is not the infallible word of God?

    1 John 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.(NASB)

    John said we know Jesus if we keep His commandments. If the Bible is not God’s incontrovertible truth, how can we know we are keeping the commandments of Jesus?

    THE GOD I WORSHIP HAS THE POWER TO PRODUCE A BIBLE THAT IS INERRANT, FACTUAL,
    INFALLIBLE, FREE FROM ERROR, LITERAL IN HISTORICAL ACCURACY, TRANSLATED CORRECTLY, AND YES, INSPIRED BY GOD HIMSELF.

    There those who agree that the Bible is the inerrant word of God but then state that you have to be a Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic scholar to understand the meaning of Scripture.

    In order to understand the Bible you have to understand whatever langauge translation you are reading. If English is your first language then you should use an English translation, if German is your primary language then read a German translation, if you are Greek then read a Greek translation etc.

    It is not ironic that they do not believe you have be a Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic scholar to under Joshua 10:13, however, in order to understand Acts 2:38 you have be not only have to be a Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic scholar, but an English professor as well.

    Joshua 10:13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.

    The “scholar police” accept Joshua 10:13 at face value; as well they should.

    The “scholar police” believe you have to be a Greek scholar and an English professor to understand Acts 2:38.
    The “scholar police” have an agenda. There goal is to convince the world that water baptism is not essential to have sins forgiven.

    Acts 2:38 Peter replied “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(The Thompson Chain -Reference Bible NIV)

    You do not have to be a Greek scholar or an English professor to understand what “so that your sins may be forgiven” means.

    Acts 2:38 Peter told them, “you must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus , so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips)

    If you have a fifth grade reading level you are capable of understand the meaning of “so that you may have your sins forgiven.”

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Let each one of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Better Version of The New Testament by Chester Estes)

    “In order to the remission of sins” means the same thing whether you are a Greek scholar, a professor in English or a novice Christian.

    Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NASB)

    It does not matter if you are a Greek scholar, or an English professor; “for the forgiveness or your sins” means exactly what it says.

    DO NOT LET THE “SCHOLAR POLICE” CONVINCE YOU, THAT ONLY AN ELITE FEW CAN UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE.

    CONTRARY TO THE “SCHOLAR POLICE” WATER BAPTISM IS ESSENTIAL TO HAVE YOUR SINS FORGIVEN!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search>>> steve finnell a christian view

  • Leilah

    Read Quran…Study Islam…
    Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

    • Timothy Sterling

      Why are you muslims so annoying and dim-witted?

  • DiligentDave

    Genuine “faith” is a “belief” that translates absolutely as “trust”. Abraham believed God to the extent that he did what God told him to do. He went to Canaan. He went to Egypt. He let Lot take either this or the other side of the river. He paid tithes of spoils he gained fighting for Sodom and Gomorrah, to Melchizedek. He trusted God would indeed give him and Sarah a child in their old age, so he had himself circumcised, as God commanded him to do, and then had sex with his wife (the circumcision probably did something to help Sarah get pregnant, besides the fact that God made her body menstruate and ovulate again. Then, when somewhat “grown”, Abraham trusted (believed / had sufficient faith) that when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son (by Sarah), he went to do it, trusting (having faith) in God that He (God) would still make a way for Isaac to live (Paul lists in Hebrews what power Abraham believed God might give him to make this happen, taking his clue from earlier patriarchs and saints who also put their faith/trust/belief in God’s word (commands)).

    The traditional Christian view of belief and faith indeed falls short of the full “trust” Peter Enns writes of in the above article. But their misunderstanding and misperception of what “belief” and “faith” are (or aren’t), shouldn’t forcibly be a reason for him to disbelieve in God, or not trust in the Creator of heaven and earth (and all things that in them are).

    Ultimately, Peter, if you think about it, we each individually, as well as collectively, either believe in God or man or nothing. And those who believe in nothing, typically end up committing suicide (for if one can trust ‘nothing’, what hope has one to ‘go on’?

    And though, indeed, mankind has made progress, due to the industrial revolution, “science”, etc, we need not suppose that, still, these things all have been and are, still, “blessings from heaven”.

    In fact, this reminds me of the man who was in a situation where he was about to die. He had been atheistic, or at least agnostic, before this situation. But he prayed to God for deliverance from his situation. Then, as God answered his prayer favorably, so the man wouldn’t die, the man then said to God, “Never mind, I’ve got it taken care of”, not realizing, or at least acknowledging, that though he might appeared to have been “saved” by ‘natural forces’, it was still God doing the saving by those means.

    I’ve long found it interesting to hear and read of various explanations as to how “nature” is so complex. How if ‘this’ didn’t happen in a certain way at a certain time, that ‘that’ consequential event wouldn’t happen either, and we’d all be doomed to death, because of what these things do, that often seem to keep nature going, and in balance, by the narrowest of threads.

    Because we have learned to manipulate some things, like DNA, etc, we suppose we have ourselves gained ‘God-like’ powers. And, indeed, to some extent, we have. But that we have gained these powers, neither means that we did not receive them from Providence, nor that because we can now do some of these things now ourselves (despite the very many big, small, and other important things that we are still very incapable of doing), that suddenly, we, like the proverbial man in a pickle (mentioned above), no longer need the help of a super intelligent Creator, compared to whom, our great abilities are virtually ‘nothing’, because we’ve been, by various means, enabled by that God to do them!

    Now, for Peter, trusting in the religions of our day who claim to believe in what is written in the Bible, may be more of where he has his difficulty. If it is, I can understand fully his angst. But, still, many of us, while practicing religion, and believing (trusting fully) in God, can mentally and emotionally still separate the two, and see where many aspects of religion inevitably display man’s often pathetic attempts to approach God properly and fully, from the knowledge (or belief, or ‘trust’) we have that God is the father of our spirits (our spirits looking just like our bodies, or, rather, vice versa, and being the ‘thing’ that makes our bodies come and stay ‘alive’), and that “He” (God) looks like us, because the Bible helps us understand that we were and are made “in his image” and in his “likeness”, etc.

    The one really silly thing, IMO, about traditional Christianity, is where it long ago adopted a neo-Platonistic interpretation of Biblical passages, making what in the Bible appears to be things that are intended to be understood at face value (like man being created in the image and likeness of God), and those things that are meant to be understood symbolically, (like man being created from the ‘dust of the earh’), are taken literally.

    Also, the many misconceptions about the creation of the world. For example, the commonly held belief that God made the world and the universe “out of nothing” is not supported, forcibly, by the text (of the Bible). My wife can create bread or a cake from “scratch” (a word used both to describe ‘nothing’, as well as basic ingredients, without there being a store-bought ‘mix’ or anything). But this doesn’t literally mean that she can make something from nothing.

    Genesis says that the elements were “void” and “without form”. I think that means that they were empty (of biological entities), and “without form”, I think, means without the form or shape they now have.

    Also, the length of time creation took, I don’t think was just 6 or 7 periods lasting 24 hours each. Genesis says that a day to God is the same as a thousand years to man. That could make creation take at least six or seven thousand years. Also, the “days” may just denote “periods of time”, whether they were all equal to each other, or not!

    My ‘belief’ (guess) is that it took far longer than 6 or 7 24-hour periods, and probably a LOT less than 14 or 40 or how ever many ‘billions’ of years. But, regardless of exactly how long ‘creation’ took to accomplish, I trust fully, by the evidence all around all of us, that it was “created” (put together) by an intelligence far superior to ours. I like to call, and believe that this “intelligence” accurately is labeled as “God”. And, He looks like us, because we were made to look like him (Genesis 1). And, that since Genesis says, “Let US go down”, and that God create man in his own image and likeness, and that He created THEM both ‘male’ AND ‘female’, that that “US’ (or ‘WE’) spoken of there is in all probability likely FEMALE. After all, why would God make “man” a being that comes in two very different and necessary genders, but He would be a bachelor himself? (It does not make sense to me)!

    And, since God commanded the males and females to marry, and become ‘ONE’, there is NO contradiction at all that “God” includes a male and female working together. They very evidently work in unison together, every bit as much as ‘God’ the son does with his Father (and his God, and our God —John 20:17), as well with the services of the Holy Ghost, or ‘Spirit of God’ doing what only he can do.

    My bet is, is that much of the Bible is misinterpreted and misunderstood today like it obviously was 2,000 years ago. And, Peter Enn, if you have a problem trusting man’s understanding of God, I’m with you, much, on that! However, don’t throw out the Creator with the religious water. For, while what man believes may not “hold water”, what God made DOES!

    • http://dissidentdispatches.blogspot.com Greggory Wood

      Suicide? Really? Where did you conjure up that nugget of falsehood. With such an extraordinary claim, I presume you hav extraordinay evidence to back it up?

      • DiligentDave

        True hopelessness typically does lead to suicide. If you believe in nothing, you lack hope. And I mean in absolutely nothing. You are already prejudiced against my claim, with your response of “that nugget of falsehood.” And, I don’t see the claim as being extraordinary in the least.

        My point is, Woody, that ultimately we either trust in God or we trust in the arm of flesh (the efforts and abilities and solutions mankind offers). There is no genuine “believing in nothing.”

        This is the point that is not only made in scripture, but many others have made it. Hugh Nibley pointed it out in his books, like “The World and the Prophets”. I’ve found the concept that someone either believes in ‘something’, or, they come to believe in truly ‘nothing’—and if the latter, they become hopeless, despondent. They conclude that there is no purpose in life.

        I’ve seen a person, very close to me, at one point in her life, become extremely despondent, and near suicidal.

        If you don’t believe me on this, that’s your choice. I feel no real compunction of convincing you. You are largely prejudiced to begin with. You will disbelieve most anything scriptural, Mormon, or Christian. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in ‘something’. You just have a bucket list of those things you claim to not believe in. Which doesn’t mean you don’t believe in ‘something’, or that you believe in ‘nothing’.

  • http://twitter.com/MarviaDavidson Marvia Davidson

    Yes! because trust requires commitment of your heart and soul – no strings attached. belief is easy. trust requires a willingess of the soul to say ‘i cannot be in control” but i’ll trust Him! trust is like acting on the belief – a standing on the rock-faith.

  • over it

    and then over educated, unhealed, idealist like you post your child like antics…and we pray for you…good going, your fate with jesus is sealed for sure…thanks for advertizing how much you realy need him… :)

    • Becka

      If god is the God of all creation, and all creation cries out his glory; then how can anyone be ‘over educated’ as a means to turn the from God? That smells like fear to me. Perhaps the underlying message hit too close to home?

  • Siddha Svarupa Das

    “Jesus tells a famous story about why those who follow him need not worry
    about anything. Don’t fret about how much you have, what you wear, or
    what you will eat. Don’t worry. Trust. (Matthew 6:25-34)”

    - The Point here is: We dont have do demand anything from God. All the
    living beings on the planet are well maintained by God. Everything which
    is for us to have here in this material world is already set up. Thats
    called karma. We should concetrate more on our reviving our
    God-Consciousness or our Relationship with God. We should learn how to
    love God. And that means that we are serving God. Not that we give
    orders and God is our servant. Worries are Illusion because we are
    attached to be the controllers and owners of this material world.

    But to come to that state of consciousness we actually have to follow Jesus! Most Christians dont do! Pure religion ist not just believing something…its about realization. Faith develops by having exchange of God. But that is not really possible if you dont know who God is. Jesus always said he is the son of God. Krishna (The Father) says in the Bhagavad Gita that the more seriously we approach Him and serve Him with devotion, the more He reveals Himself. And thats a fact. Real religion means to revive our actual relationshion with God. That is only possible if we have real knowledge about God and the actual process how to connect with Him. Jesus teachings like all abrahmic traditions are almost lost because there is no real disciplic succession. I recommend to you tho think about whether you ever had serious expierences with God or not. Please read the books of His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

    There where is real God-Consciousness there is no doubt. No fear. No anxiety. And no material attachment. One is fully happy and absorbed in His transcendental realtionshp with God. And after leaving this body one will return back Home to God into the Kingdom of God. Everything is given in the vedas and it has to be learned and understood by guidance of a real representative of God (Krishna) like Jesus Christ was. Real love means doing everything for God and offering everything to God. And that is called Bhakti-Yoga. Human live is meant for practicing bhakti-yoga. Thats what Jesus taught according to time , place and circumstances. Its always the universal process of Loving devotional service to God. Bhakti-Yoga.

    I can well understand your loosing trust in biblical christianity. Because there is no clear kowledge about waht Jesus actual tought. Much things are theologie but not the true teachings of Jesus Christ. Also there is merely no real representative of God in christianiy who FOLLOWS THE ACTUAL LAWS OF GOD.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw_HW_Fewu8&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLPQLIVb9r7QI4_NeOifb4xKrWNTzZJxu-

    All the best to You. God bless You. Hare Krishna.

    Your Servant

  • Kevin

    Peter -

    I seriously doubt that you can trust in a God you don’t believe in. I also don’t think that word (believe) means what you seem to think it means. To truly believe in something or someone entails trust of a sort, mainly that there is/are truth(s) to be relied on. Trusting God entails that you believe God is trustworthy. Why abandon the word rather that fight for a return to its biblical meaning. You don’t really believe in something if you are not ready to act as if it were true.

    The real problem is counterfeit belief. It would be more effective to try to convince people with superficial belief that they don’t really believe what they think they believe, that they are in fact, self-deceived, because they want security and not God.

    • Becka

      you’re missing his point. Implicit in his statement of trust is that he believes God exists; but that is not enough. that is a safe statement. The action is what we should be after. There is too much rhetoric and adjective checks as if the entire conservative evangelical movement is constantly running their arguments through a word-doc’s grammar function… It’s all wordplay meant to weave the fog into cohesive argument.

      Do or do not, there is no try.

  • Please God Why

    I used to believe and trust god. my daughter was drugged abducted and raped by someone she knew from campus ministries. they went for a coffee between classes and he drugged and raped her. she called out to jesus. he did nothing. she was a virgin. she has ptsd and has lost everything. i don’t trust god anymore. not sure there even is a god. a god who would allow a virgin to be drugged abducted and raped sounds more like the devil to me. you keep parsing out the difference between belief and trust though. so important.

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