What Do You Think About God?

In my recent book review of Confessions Of an Amateur Believer, by Patty Kirk, I mentioned that the author dealt with some poignant questions concerning her ideals about God. Blogging friend, Danny Kaye, suggested that perhaps we could discuss some of them. Rather than spoil the book for you by revealing all of them here, I am going to present a “composite question” to you for discussion.

Mrs. Kirk expressed that she abandoned her early belief in God because the reality of her life did not match the ideals of God that she learned in her religious upbringing. The Roman Catholic church had painted a mental picture of God that she simply could not reconcile with the events of her life.

Now, I am in no way saying that God can be limited to the scope of our experience or understanding, please do not infer that I am. God is who He is, and His ways are far beyond our ways. My understanding of God has no power to shape God, but it does have the power to shape me.

Now with that in mind, here is my question for discussion.

What should we do when the evident realities of life do not reconcile with the ideals of our faith?

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17 responses to “What Do You Think About God?

  1. Gordon,

    Interesting question. Since God is real, there is an explanation for our experiences. The difficulty can be that we can misunderstand either our experiences or who God is. So, I don’t necessarily think there is a single answer here. If there is a contradiction between our experiences and our ideals of faith, then we could be misinterpreting either one.

    -Alan

  2. ” What should we do when the evident realities of life do not reconcile with the ideals of our faith? ” Bro. Gordon if my faith and belief got so far gone or was in trouble with my everday life I would look for a place of quiet such as going fishing at the river where the birds – breeze- and the whispers of my innerself could get in touch with God and ask HIM to have mercy on me and help me find my way to the peace in my heart? Just something about floating down the river that lifts me up in my own little world! Blessings. RON.

  3. Great question and I really appreciate the responses as well.

    For me this is always an indication that it is time to refine my faith. I have allowed myself to believe that God would/would not do or allow a certain thing rather than trust that what ever He does or allows really does work together for good.

    I suppose it is one thing to trust Him for something and another to trust Him in everything. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. This one hits too close to home. My faith is not a simple thing. I grapple and wrestle with God; an apparent fault of mine is that I do not accept things at face value. I pray, tussle, and cajole God for answers, but frankly, sometimes they just don’t come. I steep myself in His Word, but…nothing.

    I think I have discovered that God often does not give me the answers I seek just simply to push me to that state of brokenness he wants to see in me.

    So, when life doesn’t measure up, I tend to do the same thing. Just more of it.

    Does that make sense?

  5. I frequently get accused of being naive or to simplistic (and certainly unrealistic!) in discussions such as this, but I’ll take the chance that this would not be the place that happens! ๐Ÿ™‚

    When experiences in life don’t seem to match up with the realities of our faith, I do two things:

    1. I double-check my held beliefs to make sure that I really am certain that what I believe is based on revelation of God (Jesus, especially vis-a-vis the Scriptures), and …
    2. I continue to hold fast to my faith, believing that Scripture is not kidding when it says that we walk by faith, and not by sight.

    I dare not allow what I see to redefine what God has revealed, and that which I accept by faith.

    I dunno….does that make sense?

  6. Ha! I didn’t realize Tony and I both ended our comments with “Does that make sense?” hehe

    Great minds, Tony ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Or two really insecure guys!!)

  7. Great minds, Steve, great minds. Has to be. At least I think so…I don’t know, what do you think? Gordon, how about you??? Anybody else?

    Maybe I should go ask my wife…

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. This is a great discussion guys. So far I find myself in the ballpark with all of you.

    Obviously, times like these should cause us to re-examine our faith and perhaps, as KC pointed out to refine our faith.

    While I believe that the Bible is God’s full revelation of truth, I do believe that He can use the circumstances of life to enhance our understanding of that truth. Hopefully, one day I will mature to the point of first looking for a divine lesson when faced by a crisis instead of doubting.

    I appreciate everyone’s input in this so far. Bro. Ron, there is something about the combination of fishing and theology that I find appealing.

  9. I think, and I could be wrong here, that our understanding of knowledge may be part of the problem we have with wrestling with our faith and our understanding of God. I was taught that knowledge was rationalistic, not based on experience (empiricism). But, we know that is not entirely true. In the same way, my rational understanding is not always true either.

    So, we as Christians try not to rely on rationalism or empiricism (experiences). Instead, we rely on revelation. But, what happens with there is a three-way tug-of-war… who wins?

    (I’m not going to say “Does this make sense?”)

  10. If there is a sense of contradiction between my ideal (or perception) of God and my perception of the reality of my life, there are two possibilities.

    One of my perceptions is wrong.

    If my perception (and thus expectations) of God is wrong, I (as Steve stated with such great sense) compare it to His revelation of Himself to see how I need to change it. For me, this is part of the process of knowing God. He allows such inconsistencies to shake up my “image” of Him, provoking the needed change.

    If my perception of God is sound, then the inconsistency lies in my perception of my reality. Since I can’t even know my own heart fully, and a way of death can “seem” right, this is entirely possible. When this is the case, I have to seek and pray for understanding. It doesn’t always come immediately, but it comes when God knows I’m ready for it.

    BTW . . .This probably overlaps with some previous comments. When it does, you insecure guys can feel assured that that portion of your comment made sense. Other parts are still questionable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Alan, you make a good point. Revelation trumps knowledge and experience. I think Hebrews 11 would support this.

    Cameron, thanks for that clear point of view. I am glad that you are feeling good about yourself today. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Tip of the old fedora to Cameron. Here, here!

  13. โ€ What should we do when the evident realities of life do not reconcile with the ideals of our faith? โ€

    I think that question all depends on what the ideals of your faith look like. Speaking for myself, I teach the Word, so I stay in the Word on a daily basis. One of the realities that I’ve learned about God’s Word is that it is like a prism. Depending on my ‘present’ situation, the Word can have totally different meanings from day to day.

    Understanding that reality, and understanding that God always has my best at heart, I can truthfully say that I have not…in many years…questioned the things that happen to me. I just ask the Lord to help me get through them.

    After all, you don’t have a testamony until you’ve had a test, and we all need to go through the Refiner’s fire.

    When you think that your life can’t get any worse, study how most of the disciples died!

  14. After all, you donโ€™t have a testamony until youโ€™ve had a test, and we all need to go through the Refinerโ€™s fire.

    Great statement, Bonnie. Thanks.

  15. Oh great! I suggest the idea. And then don’t show up for the party! howdya like that?

    And after reading the comments, I am convinced that I can add nothing to them, although I believe I lean toward Steve’s way of thinking.

    (I also like Bonnies phrase! I’m keeping that.)

  16. Glad you made it Danny, as you can see we left the light on for ya! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. I think we accept too many outside influences as substitutes for our internal beliefs. If the author could not reconcile with the practices of the Catholic Church, she should consider looking elsewhere for the truth. The reason there are so many different versions of Christianity is precisely because our ancestors were not afraid to move on when they believed where they were fell short of the ideals inherent in being a Christian. We forget that we were given the awesome responsibility of Free Will and Free Choice for a reason.

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