Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Some of Life's Toughest Questions

Recent statistics show that 80% of the world believes in God. However, acknowledging God’s existence does not necessarily mean someone is religious. I had an interesting conversation with a few of my friends this weekend and we began discussing God, organized religion, and some of life’s other tough questions.

Over the past couple years I have met more and more people that describe themselves as “spiritual,” but not “religious.” I never really understood what that meant until discussing this aspect with one of my friends that falls into this category.

Developing your “spiritual” side simply means the conscious act of self improvement. Taking a walk, clearing your mind, reading a book, thinking deeply about something, meditation, or any other activity that promotes self reflection qualifies as self improvement. If someone says they are “religious,” this typically means they actively practice their faith—like a Christian that goes to church, reads The Bible, and constantly prays.

A viewer of the CNN/YouTube debates (scroll to question #20) and asked the Republican candidates if they “believed every single word of The Holy Bible.” I’ve never really examined what the question asks, or where I stand. I think The Bible was written by God through man—meaning that it is the word of God. However, I also acknowledge it’s translation from Hebrew to various languages, and believe some of the words have been altered—so there are some interpretive differences between the original Hebrew version of The Bible and many of the versions we read today, however, the concepts remain the same.

My next point: I feel God left The Bible for man to interpret. In addition, there are certain aspects of it that human beings cannot comprehend, which is exactly how God intended it. If science explains everything, why have faith?

The conversation jumped around numerous times, and I found it interesting that five good friends all had different feelings, meanings, and interpretations when it came to organized religion. We eventually agreed that for the most part, religion does more good than harm, and it remains an essential part of many people’s lives.

Finally, a really tough question: Do you believe God knows exactly what’s going to happen in all our lives, and if so, how does “free will” fit into this logic?

I believe God has a set plan for the earth and all of our lives. “Free will” simply means we have the ability to do what we choose, with no outside influence. However, even though we think we are somehow “tricking” God with our decisions—good or bad—he already knew the path we would take.

I’d like to hear what you think are the answers to these questions…..

17 comments:

L. Medy said...

Brian,

I really enjoy reading your blog. Your insight has always been valuable to me, and not suprisingly, we agree on just about everything regarding God, marriage, and as little as I know about the topic, finances. You're in my prayers often. Take care of yourself, and give my love to your lovely future wifey.

Andrew Pratt said...

What do you expect from us with that title and that closing request? We are always trying to solve the "life's toughest questions." When are we going to pick some easier ones? I don't really want to touch the first part of these questions except to ask what that "spirituality" will do for them once they breathe their last breath. Self improvement is great, and is necessary, but what is going to happen in the end, and what backs up that "spirituality?" As far as every word being true in The Bible: It is tough to understand a lot of it, like you said, because of the translations and that the authors were not from our culture or generation. Their use of parables, allegories, etc are often taken literally and ends up making larger gray areas. For many passages, we need to look for more information as to who were the original authors, and what it was meant during the timeframe in which it was written. The authors of the gospels all interpreted their sightings in different ways, and described things differently, but they all were inspired by God (2 Peter 1:21). And finally for the tough question... This is one that has been debated by many of the classic theologians, so I guess I can't really even start solving that problem in a blog. I have been pointed to the "A Review of Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation" argument which is about this very issue. It's better to read that, than to haphazardly think about it on your own. Go to http://www.prca.org/prtj/nov95b.html for the summary. Simply put, I believe that God is all-knowing, and He knows what we are going to choose. God works in us (Philipians 2:13), and we will either accept or reject Him. There are so many elements to this and many other debated theologies that I think you have to do a lot of reading, and see which passages in the Bible hold the most weight and are supported by the rest of the scriptures. After having a long discussion about this, it seems just as confusing as when I started, but everything will come back to the certainties. At least I am now curious to do more reading about it. I might end up in the same place because our finite minds have a tough time with questions that only God knows. This is why their are so many branches of the Christian faith. Different interpretations have split the Church so you get the annoying question of: what kind of church do you go to, or really, what kind of Christian are you? I don't even answer that anymore, and say that I believe in The Bible. There's no reason to keep establish a sense of division.

Brian Reese said...

Thanks for reading, Medy!

Andrew, thanks for your thoughts. I agree that it's hard to know and understand everything, but that's part of the journey--investigating!

Cameron Schaefer said...

The free will question is one that will never be completely answered until we get to heaven, but I like the answer my friend Glenn likes to give, explaining we should go about living as participants in a divine improv, not chained to a script, but nonetheless completely ineffective and awkward outside the director's basic framework.

P.S. did you get rid of Intense Debate? I've had a few problems with it all loading lately

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