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my beliefs – and your “beliefs?

June 4, 2011

Thanks Kate for the kind comments about the good that I do in the community – but that wasn’t the point I was trying to make!
That section of the post was about the way in which my faith, my world view, comes under test because of the circumstances in which I find myself working.
I claim that, for example, God has a loving attitude towards humanity, and that Jesus is portrayed throughout the Bible as a Good Shepherd – he cares for the young and tends the lame etc. That’s a great theory, one might say, and in a vacuum would be a nice, warm, comfortable faith to hold.
Why I was mentioning bereaved parents was that, in my work context, I come up against extremes of suffering and depths of pain, and naturally at times like that I have to re-evaluate what I believe, for two reasons. First, because I want to be honest and whole-hearted – I want to know if what I believe is true, at it simplest level. So I have to look at, in my head and in my heart, what I mean by saying “Jesus is a Good Shepherd” to make sure that I do still hold it to be true, even when seeing a broken-hearted young couple in depths of grief. And second, I need to re-assess my belief so that what I say to such a couple is not a pack of lies, not a “pie-in-the-sky” fabrication, but is something which they might test and come to rely on in their need. If I offered them something that was trite and which I knew to be false I would be not only lying, but I would be making a tragic situation worse!

To try then to answer some of your questions – and to throw in the odd challenge myself!

Yes of course at one level it is fair to say that I posted “It works for me” – but then that is what you put in your “Why I am …” you in effect said that you are happy with your world view. We would expect no less of each other.
But I would also claim that the Christian world view that I hold is not just subjectively tenable, but I would make a stronger statement – that it is a philosophically valid world view that can be tested against all other faiths and philosophies, and put alongside other “explanations” of the world we experience, and shown to be internally consistent and strongly coherent.
Then you ask “How might I persuade someone to become a Christian?”, which is a different question again. Saying that it is a valid “world view” is of course important – I wouldn’t, and neither would you, go about trying to sign people up to something we knew to be false! You won’t find me shouting “Join the Big Society – it works!” or “Follow Hereford United – they are the greatest football team in England”
For someone to become a Christian they don’t need to accept every word of the Bible, or to try to reconcile in their minds the claims of string theory over against images in John’s vision of heaven in the book of Revelation. To be a Christian believer means, I think, to acknowledge one’s need of God – to accept that without God’s help I will remain self-centred (and sinful); that by God’s grace through Jesus Christ I can be not just given strength day by day but also set free from sin and death.
So to become a Christian requires an attitude of heart and mind that are willing to admit their limitations and to submit to a greater wisdom.

Now a question for you!
Where do you stand on the “Atheists have beliefs of their own” debate? I know that Dawkins has been quoted – and I don’t know if this is true or not – as stating that he favours the “multi-verse” interpretation of the Big Bang processes, and that he has been challenged to defend why this is not a “belief” – so far I think he has done so without convincing anyone!
I know you “believe” in, for example, honesty at work, and the universal right to freedom of political expression – and from our long discussions on the subject, that the world-wide internet community doesn’t need regulating!
Are these beliefs?

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