Axver (axver) wrote,
Axver
axver

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The foundation of faith.

It seems to me that for a while, I've been in a state of confusion and uncertainty about religion. It's not that I have doubts about what I believe; rather, it's a case of struggling in the practice of it. Today, I would like to talk about the foundation of my beliefs, to give you an idea of what I believe and why I believe it before I talk about my uncertainties tomorrow. I'm not asking anyone to change their beliefs; I am writing this for two reasons: firstly, for myself, and secondly, so that you may understand where I am coming from when I discuss my beliefs. I only ask that you read if you are interested, and that you keep an open mind. I welcome any questions you may have. While it may seem like a bit of heavy reading, I must say I have brushed over many things and could have written significantly more. Indeed, volumes of books have been written on the subjects I touch upon. But without further ado ...

I have found that the more I struggle with faith and the more my devotion is tested, the more I realise that I have a rock-solid foundation. I may have my moments of weakness, where I lose my focus and find myself led astray from the path I should be following, and I may have my periods of dryness where I feel completely distant from God and the truth, but I never doubt any of my core beliefs and I always return to them. They are always there for me to cling to, for me to trust in, and to provide shelter, security, comfort, truth, and when necessary, a cold, hard dose of reality.

I don't doubt the existence of God. I cannot fathom how the world could have been created without a divine power - in fact, while I believe many concepts of the universe and existence are (at present) beyond human understanding, I also believe that the universe could not have come from nothing, but rather created by the great uncaused cause, i.e. God. While the created universe is governed by the rule that something cannot come from nothing, God, who is outside the universe, is not subject to such a law as he created it. I find that explanation to be a lot more plausible than forms of atheistic evolution.

Nor do I doubt the deity of Christ. While there is debate about some historical documents, there is a wonderful wealth of writing about the life of Christ and the church's richly preserved tradition helps to combat the allegations of tampering. The consistency of the accounts of the early Christians wonderfully attests to the reality of Christ's resurrection, and I frankly find the claims that the disciples made up the story of the resurrection to be grasping at straws. Modern medicine handily shows us that the crucifixion left Christ dead; he was well and truly deceased when he was placed in the tomb. So were the disciples in such deep sorrow that they were hallucinating? Read the Bible's account - if that was a hallucation, it's the most consistent and widely deceptive hallucination in history, and group hallucinations simply do not occur. More importantly for me, though, is the Thomas factor. Thomas thought the others were delusional and hallucinating! But that was before he saw the risen Christ with his own eyes and physically felt the wounds. At that point, Thomas fell to his knees and cried "My Lord and my God!" Personally, I am much more inclined to believe the testimony of an eye-witness over twenty-first century skeptics who are comfortable in their atheism or have seen one too many conspiracy documentaries. But was Thomas lying? Did he and the other believers concoct one massive fabrication? A deceiver does not die for his lie. And yet these men endured persecution, hatred, torture, and death, all in the name of preaching that Christ rose from the dead. Not a single one of them ever said "hold that sword right there, I'd like to tell you that this is all just a sham". They did quite the opposite: they held their faith to the end, singing hymns as they were executed. If I can't trust their accounts as reliable, I don't know if I can trust anything.

Now, let's put the last two paragraphs together. I'm barely brushing the surface of some very deep theology (I may write some elaborations at a later date), but what we have, in essence, is my firm conviction that God must exist, and a solid belief that Christ was crucified and then rose from the dead. So just how did Christ come back from the dead? You put one and one together: he was resurrected by God. People don't just come back to life, especially not crucified corposes that have been left unattended in a cave for a few days. So this brings us to a crucial point in my foundation, a question. Now that we have established that God exists and he rose Christ from the dead, why did he do it, who was Christ, and what did he teach?

I'm going to keep this simple for the sake of brevity. God is a perfect being, while man is a fallen creature, separated from God - just the simplest observations of human nature and its failings are enough evidence that we are not perfect! Man is in a permanent state of rebellion against God, and as much as we may want to return to him, our imperfection holds us back from making the perfect offer that would bridge the divide. For that reason, God, out of his love for his creation, took the initiative. A representative of humanity (i.e. a person) had to make the offer, but at the same time, for the offer to be sufficient, it had to be perfect (i.e. God); thus Jesus Christ was both fully man and fully God. He offered himself for humanity's wrongdoings. He selflessly gave up everything and offered all he had on behalf of mankind. To complete the job for humanity, he had to loose us from the curse that was placed on us at the fall - death. And three days after his crucifixion, Christ showed the ultimate power of God and loosed the chains by returning to life, conquering death and removing its sting. Through his sacrifice, humanity was returned to God and able to attain eternal life.

What I hope I have illustrated to at least some degree of adequacy is my belief that there is a God, Jesus Christ is the saviour of mankind, and he died and rose again. There's only one piece of my foundation left to be illustrated - what did Christ teach? He didn't mince words or leave any room for error when he said that he is "the way, the truth, and the life", that the "only way to the Father is through me", and that "I and my Father are one" (couple that final comment with "I shall send you my Spirit to be with you always" and you have the basis of the doctrine of the Trinity). When Christ spoke, not only did he speak with wisdom, but he spoke with the authority of God because he is fully God. His words are absolute commands, and I believe that God, using divine inspiration, inspired human authors to record his word for the world to read.

In short, I believe that there is a God, that salvation was attained by Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, and that the Bible is authoritative and true. This is my foundation, a solid foundation built upon a rock that has weathered many storms. My entire life is based on this faith and it is an integral part of who I am. I don't ask that anyone else believe it unless they genuinely want to, I simply ask that you respect it.
Tags: belief, christianity, crucifixion, faith, religion, resurrection, theology
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