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#62 Belief in God

Summary:

How can we even begin to talk about belief in God?  We need to start by making something clear: we're not talking about belief in something; we're talking about belief in someone.  That changes the way we see the question.  It means God isn't something we think about.  It means He's someone we're invited to encounter.  

Questions:

As you watch the episode, consider:

1. How does belief in God vary from belief in an object?

2. If we are struggling with our belief in Him what can we do?

3. When we actively encounter and engage God, what can any proof or argument change?

Check out these model lesson plans / retreat sessions for JOY and GOYA!

Links:

And here are some articles you may find to be helpful:

1. Bible Gateway, Mark 9:24

2. Orthodox Wiki, Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed

3. Ancient Faith Blogs: Glory to God for All Things, Doubt and Modern Belief

Script:

Hey everybody this is Steve, and if we're going to talk about our Christian beliefs, we should talk about our belief in God. How do we even begin to talk about such a complex question? People believe in God for lots of reasons. Some people believe because of a book they've read; others believe because of an experience they've had. But before we can talk about a belief in God, we need to be clear about something. God isn't an it or a what. So when we're talking about belief in God we're not talking about belief in something we're talking about belief in someone. And that totally changes how we approach the question. Let me show you what I mean. This is not a person. It's a Be the Bee mug, and if you're curious I could tell you how much it weighs, how tall it is, that it lives in our kitchen. I can tell you facts about this mug and then you can decide whether you believe it exists. But let's say that instead of a mug I presented you with a friend of mine. I can tell you facts about him, what his name is, how tall he is, where he's from. And that may cause you to believe that he exists but so what? Things like mugs and rocks and clouds are objects. We can study them, and measure them, and learn about them. Though our understanding only goes one way. I see and observe the mug, but the mug doesn't observe me.

People on the other hand, aren't simply objects. We're not simply things to study and measure and learn about. We're subjects. We can observe and be observed. We can understand and be understood. In other words, we're persons. Keep in mind that person does not necessarily mean human. That's why we can have the Three Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity. As theologian Metropolitan John of Pergamon writes: "The person is otherness in communion and communion in otherness. The person is an identity that emerges through relationship." An interesting thing about persons is that we don't exist in a vacuum. A mug floating by itself in space is still a mug. But a person in isolation isn't fully a person. There is no me without you. We exist in our relationship with others; in this complex place between opening ourselves up to others and having others open themselves up to us. And as we've said in a past episode, the most important relationship we need to become fully ourselves, fully person, is our relationship with God.

So what does all this have to do with belief in God? Well, an important Christian teaching is that God isn't an abstract force. He's not an impersonal thing that winds up the universe like a clock and then steps back to watch it go. God is personal; God is a person, or rather, as we'll talk about next week, God is a Holy Trinity of three Divine Persons. Since God is personal, we can't talk about Him and His existence as if we're talking about whether a mug exists or not. If you google belief in God you'll find countless articles, and lists, and reasons, and proofs that people have come up with and some of them are worth reading. But we can't over-rely on proofs because we're not talking about math. We can't over-rely on arguments because we're not talking about philosophy. We can’t turn God into an object, a thing or an idea that we simply talk about rather than a person that we talk to. Talking about God shouldn't make us forget to commune with Him and love Him. In fact the best theology is always done in the context of prayer and fasting and service. It's immersed in the life of the Church. God is so much more than an idea that we use to justify our ideas about morality. He's so much more than a comforting thing that we use to fill the God-shaped holes in our hearts. God is personal. He can't simply be discussed; He needs to be encountered.

It's definitely not easy I mean; I've struggled with my faith. I still struggle with my faith. That struggle was really difficult when I was a teenager and sometimes I turned to books and while reading about the faith was interesting, it only did so much. For a long time the Faith was for me, just an abstract idea. Years later, after a lot of struggle and distance from the Church, my dad passed away. And for the first time in many years, I prayed. I went from not interested in God at all to being really sad and angry at Him. Even though He was someone I was angry with he was still someone, rather than something. My life has been the same since. If you are struggling with faith; if you're not sure if God is real, this may sound weird but try reaching out to Him. I know, trust me I know it's hard, but if God is real He's a person. And if He's a person then we need to approach Him personally, to encounter Him. Attend the church services, take time every day to put aside your distractions and open your heart to God. Make prayer a part of your life. There's no denying how hard this can be. That's why it's amazing to that the Church even offers a prayer for our doubt. "Lord I believe, help my unbelief." So let's be the bee, and encounter God. Be the bee and live Orthodoxy. Remember to like and subscribe. I'll see you all, next week.

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