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Monday, February 04, 2008
Christian Agnostics/Deists?
At what point does doubt slide into some form of agnosticism or deism? Is it possible to be a Christian if you're not even sure if God exists?

I ask because I'm becoming less and less certain of my beliefs. Most days, I'm relatively sure that there is *something* out there...but not always. And often I can't say whether that *something* is God as we think of him/her. I just don't know. Strangely, this isn't a disturbing thing to me in most situations. Although it can become a little awkward when other Christians attempt to convince me of X by pointing out bible verses or saying, "the church teaches...."

To me, those sort of arguments are beginning to make about as much sense as attempting to prove that Santa exists because his name was on some of the presents under Johnny and Sarah's Christmas tree last December. ;)

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posted by Lydia at 10:55 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 2/04/2008 11:45:00 AM, Blogger Rick

    Wouldn't presume to tell you what you might be going through, or how to get where you think you might be going. For what it's worth, thanks for sharing a little of the ambiguity and your peace with it.

  • At 2/04/2008 12:01:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Oh goodness. I completely know how you feel! I've told many people lately that I've settled in the Deist camp for a while.

    I don't have any answers for you -- not that you asked for any -- but I'm right there with ya!


  • At 2/04/2008 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous Jessica

    I'm there, too! I'm pretty sure I believe in God, but I'm unsure of pretty much everything else. The other day I sat down and wrote out exactly what I can and cannot believe and the list of for "can" wasn't very long. I discovered that the main belief I hold at this point is that unconditional love/grace is the healing of humanity. But how or why or what that specifically means, I don't know.

    I think its still possible to call myself Christian, because even Christianity teaches that God is beyond all knowing and that the names and attributes we give to him/her are hopelessly inadequate. But I am also agnostic. I feel like its a little like nationality, I was born and raised in Germany, but held a Canadian passport. I still retain a lot of the German influence on my life, but I live in Canada now and am becoming increasingly Canadian. I love this Madeleine L'Engle quote:

    "Who is this creator to whom I cry out, 'Help!'? How can I believe in a God who cares about individual lives on one small and unimportant planet? I don't know. I just don't know. But I cannot turn away from the hope and the mystery which can never be understood. I know only that when I cry out, 'Help!' the fact that I am crying out affirms that somewhere in some part of me I hope that there is someone who hears, who cares. The one I cry out to is not limited by size or number, and can be glimpsed only in metaphor, that chief tool of imagery of the poet. And it is only in the high language of poetry that anything can be said about God."

    I like your comment about not feeling disturbed with the uncertainty. That's been a big theme in my life for the last few months. This is something that's come out of it:

    certainty slides fades squeezes
    into doubts
    falling quickly (beautifully)
    to questions beyond
    the reach of all answers
    pushed into spaces unknown
    yet frighteningly free
    losing all the black and white
    to grey (unassuming)
    vague and shifting rather
    opening all the doors to different
    ways of knowing
    the comprehension of paradox
    as the question to all great answers
    still unasked (unmasked)
    ambiguity as the final form
    of faith

    Anyway, its nice to know that others are here, too.

  • At 2/04/2008 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Lydia - thanks for sharing. I too find the "arguments" for why I should believe to be lacking and a bit odd. I sometimes wonder of people would just stop and listen to the platitudes and memorized responses they dispense I they would even make sense to them. I still choose to believe, but I know that in many ways it is a choice.

  • At 2/04/2008 01:46:00 PM, Anonymous sonja

    I have those doubts and feelings quite often ... then I go outside and watch the sunrise. Or the birds or something like that. Or sit with a photo of something spectacular like the Grand Canyon, or the Himalayas or some of the photos of space like the Horsehead Nebula. Then I remember some of the spaciousness of God and I'm okay with the doubts. They haven't gone away, but I remember that She is much, much, much bigger and more different than any of us can describe and I'm prolly just missing some information. So it's alright.

    The place I most definitely don't go is to other people, unless I know that they are doubters too, or even the Bible ... I prefer nature and places where God can reveal herself to me if She chooses to.

  • At 2/04/2008 03:05:00 PM, Blogger Deb

    I know that for myself I had to come to grips with God's reality by accepting that there would be times that I would not know The Presence of God. I am finishing reading Renita Weems' book "Listening for God" and I have found her transparency and honest questions helpful.

    I can not "know" all about God. I can and will trust that as I ask, the Holy Spirit will breathe new awareness of The Presence into my life and heart.

    It's better to ask these questions and seek for confirmation than be a lukewarm plodder of a follower.


  • At 2/04/2008 07:56:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Lydia, I have found that just when I am about to "come out" as an agnostic or un-Christian or whatever, my very act of letting go of god and Christianity, like ceasing to grasp at sand, allows my inner believer to also surface, a new kind of belief held in the Palm of ---- the One who is beyond, the Being of Light/Love/Grace/Truth/Beauty/Holy/Ground/Of Being

    Then when I try to actively force myself back into theological boxes and think "like a Christian," I can't. I have to let go again and let ----work on me, in me, with me, flowing through me out into the world.

  • At 2/04/2008 09:58:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    Lydia: It seems to me your questions are reasonable and the not uncommon result of an open and curious mind. Probably also a brave one too, for it takes some guts to not hold on desperately to any one idea about God and to embrace the ambiguity and allow yourself to ponder and question and wrestle and doubt and believe and question some more...and simply enjoy the mystery and wonder of being alive at all.

  • At 2/05/2008 06:54:00 AM, Blogger Joanna

    My pastor has used the phrase "reverent agnosticism", and I resonate with it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • At 2/05/2008 08:33:00 AM, Blogger m e l i s s a

    i came across your post today and really appreciated it. thanks! it's really close to where i am these days ... and it makes for some uneasiness on a lot of levels (and sometimes i feel like i am the only one!).

    i really liked the phrase "reverent agnosticism" that someone shared. i have started thinking of myself as a hopeful skeptic. married to a somewhat reluctant atheist ... it gets kind of muddy.

  • At 2/06/2008 09:39:00 PM, Anonymous lisa

    I think understanding how culture seeps in and affects our worldview helps a great deal. James Sire's book "Naming the Elephant" solidifies murkiness for me recently in that regard. But beyond that--We don't have to be afraid of doubts--sometimes I think that's how God uses life to draw us into deeper relationship to him.

    Sometimes just resting and remembering will be helpful. For instance, for me lately some ancient spiritual disciplines like lectio divina, breath prayer, and the Jesus prayer are very powerful contemplative and meditative ways to quiet my heart in this over-plugged in world and sense the love and peace of my Creator and God. I hope you feel Love again soon. Love is there, lavish and rich for you. There for you to take. It's not complicated. Sometimes it's so simple we miss it.

    Loving you from an outpouring of Love not from me alone.

  • At 2/07/2008 09:24:00 AM, Blogger Sensuous Wife

    Has there ever been a moment when you thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for your sins and asked him to come into your heart? Even as a child?

    Once we do, he won't let go of us. Wow am I glad of that!

    Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he cannot deny us for we are part of him. (2 Timothy 2:13) the NASB ends this verse by saying "he cannot deny himself".

  • At 2/08/2008 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    Thank you for your graceful comments, everyone. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about the response I might get and was half-expecting a lecture or two about my "lack of faith" not because I think the people here are the kinds of individuals who browbeat....it's just such a personal topic.

    Here's a quote from "The Silver Chair," one of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, that I've really been chewing on lately:

    "Suppose this black kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."

    In the scene, a few human children and a Narnian name Puddlegum who have been trapped by a witch are attempting to get out of a memory-loss spell that she had put on them. This quote comes from a larger speech that Puddleglum makes just as the witch is about to convince them that there's no world other than the dark, dank one underground where she lives.

  • At 2/08/2008 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Sensuous Wife

    You go girl!

    Even if there were no Heaven, living with Hope and Love is worth it.


  • At 2/08/2008 04:57:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    I feel like its a little like nationality,

    Yeah, in some ways I'm a cultural Christian as well. I was raised in the church, I was even a preacher's kid for most of my growing-up years. I highly doubt I'd be a Christian today had I been raised by people who either didn't believe or who weren't so passionate about it.

    But there's also the part of me that wants to believe because I really can't stomach the idea that this world is all there is. There's a small (metaphorical...I'm not having auditory hallucinations :) ) ) voice inside of me that insists that there is something else out there.

    I just can't say for certain what that something might be, although I hope it's something akin to the (benevolent) "God" I was taught about as a kid.

  • At 2/09/2008 08:58:00 AM, Blogger Nancy

    This is exactly the line of thought that eventually brought me around to my faith once again. I was kind of "ashamed" that it was not something more "spiritual" but I have come to see it as more legtitmate and this conversation affirms this.

    It has been many years now but I did make a choice...I decided I would rather live my life choosing to believe in Jesus and what Jesus taught rather than live my life as though this is all there is and that when we die we cease to exist in any form at all.

    I had no idea what my life would be like after making this decision outside of livig my life with some semblance of peace. I got far more than I could have ever imagined and don't regret the choice. Yes, the doubts rise up and I see this as a reasonable and even expected process.

    Thanks to all of you for sharing so openly and honestly.

  • At 2/12/2008 09:38:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Just saying HI officially again as I connect the dots between this site and theooze. I commented on your post earlier -- I'm still mostly in the Deist camp... but still with a bit of evangelism hanging on out of sheer programming.
    Anyway - MultiSlacker, One Voice of Many.... either way... Michelle

  • At 5/02/2008 09:57:00 AM, Anonymous Sarah

    I posted a question on the Ooze that led Lydia to link me to this wonderful conversation. Wanted to add Seph's title for what we might be: "Faithful doubter." I like it! And I'm adding it to this list of wonderful ideas about what, other than "christian" we might be.

    My thought on the other thread was that we have come to the EC because of our doubts, or that doubt might be a common thread. Not everyone at the Ooze agreed with me, but I stick by my assertion--we have come looking for a place where we can express more than just our certainties.

    The older I get, the less certain I become. I was having a wonderful conversation with my Hindu friend the other day about our doubts/beliefs about whether or not God exists. She is a scientist and the only thing she felt she could cling to was the fact that, even with all the building blocks of life, science can not recreate life. That, in her mind, was the only link holding her heart chained to any belief that there is a God.

    For me, it is as linked to science (in my case, quantum physics which is far too godlike to be particularly scientific) as it is to the ideas of hope/love expressed in this thread. There are spaces between people that are filled with something--it can't all be explained away. That cell-level something, for me, has to be "God," whatever that might be. I like Jesus' take on things and, culturally, am more comfortable worshiping this idea of what "God" might be through Jesus' teachings.

    Ah. It's great to know I'm not the only one who thinks and writes about these things.


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