The Difficulty of Belief

Faith has never been easy for me.  Even as a child, I seemed to have more doubts and questions as is normal for a snot-nosed little sprite.

Growing up in a reformed baptist church, though, I was required to attempt to develop a rock-solid certainty in the veracity and infallibility of Scripture, in the complete sovereignty of God, in the five-fold Doctrines of Grace, as well as a host of other and sundry doctrines, dogmas, and certitudes.

Finally, when I left the church it was in the midst of a true “Crisis of Faith”.  I had begun to see through the veneer of the serious, forced facade to the devilish interior of the people and the system I grew up in and as I did I was faced with a series of three seemingly simple choices:

1.) There is no god

2.) What I was taught about God was completely true

3.) What I was taught about God was in some sense partially or completely false

As for the first choice, its quite possible that there is no god, but its never been something that I’ve been able to every put any kind of moral or cognitive weight behind.  One way or the other, it seems to me that there must be SOMETHING out there, beyond us, and beyond the realm of the material.  The concept and idea of the “Spiritual” has always carried clout with me.  It seems quite plausible to me that there are multiple gods, or else a god who’s different from the Christian God, but I don’t know that I can ever be an atheist.

As an aside, I feel that I must say something about this.  As a younger man I thought that Atheists and Agnostics were engaged in the worst sort of intellectual and spiritual laziness, to the point where it was hard for me to even Hear them.  Now though?  I get it.  I understand why someone would ditch the faith and conclude that not only is God a colossal motherfucker, but that he doesn’t exist, nor do any other number of gods in any number of collective pantheons throughout the course of human history.  I cannot conclude that myself, but I do understand.

Secondly the thought that what I was taught is completely true is something that I seriously considered, but in the negative.  In other words, if what I was taught was completely true, then God could go fuck himself, which meant that I was subsequently done with Him.  Even if it meant my soul.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t serve a god like that.  Whatever part of my mind that had housed those families of concepts was burnt up in the fire and the land had been salted and made dead.  As I said elsewhere, “If there’s a god who seeks to sling some holy-fucking wrath, he’s dead to me“.

So, I couldn’t NOT believe in God, or at least a concept of God (an agnostic possibility), and I couldn’t believe in a God that was as intent on wrath and hatred as the god I was taught.  So, that left me with finding a way to believe in God (or to put in more generically, The Divine) in a way that I could live with.

And although this might be a topic for a different post, I have decided that some of the concepts/tenets of Christianity (an attempt at explaining the reality of evil in the world and in man, the notion of Grace, and the person of Jesus) is compelling enough for me to retain the “title” (while groaning inwardly at the word) of Christian.

Still.  I believe, but am so very full of unbelief.  Belief has never come easy to me.  Certainty is an illusion that I cannot help but seek, but which is foreign to me and forever beyond my grasp.  I say the Creed every week in Morning Prayer, but often have a hard time claiming it for myself.  I pray the prayers, but my heart is most often not in it.  I persist in claiming faith for myself, when I live in the land of darkness and doubts.

I feel myself to be a laughing stock, an unbelieving believer, or perhaps a believing unbeliever.  I don’t really know.  I hope, I suppose; and I hope that that’s enough.

(featured image: “Doubt” by Alicechan on DeviantArt)