Anyone who has read my blog in any depth will recognise that there are two important components to my beliefs about God and the world. On the one hand, there is my panentheist attitude that sees God in everything as the ‘cosmic animator’ – responsible for everything that happens in existence. On the other hand, there is my Christian faith, which acknowledges Jesus as Lord and is the focal point of my prayer life and my faith.
There is a struggle that goes on in my life every day as I try to reconcile the differences that these two strands of thought and belief present.
It’s a simple predicament: If God is in control of everything that happens, then how am I to understand free will which is central to the Bible and to Christian thinking? I do not feel that I can be a fully committed Christian with this dilemma filling my thoughts each day. And yet I love to pray and feel I must, and I believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
I have probably been frustrating my Christian friends as I have agonised over this dilemma for several years. I recently spoke with an Anglican priest about it and he wasn’t able to provide a satisfying solution. Indeed, it seems that no one that I talk to (Christian or not) can reconcile this problem for me. No books that I have read or lectures that I have listened to have helped me to settle the dilemma.
It seems to me that I am going to have to live with the dilemma. That doesn’t make life easy – I am “not quite a Christian” which is not a generally acceptable position among my Christian friends who are mostly very evangelical. I don’t feel I can preach the gospel with any gusto having the problems with Christianity that I do. And the pull of what I believe is the truth about God is strong enough to keep me believing that the panentheistic vision of God that I espouse is right.
The best advice that I have received on this matter actually came from my own father. We were sat in a park talking about Christianity and as I explained my predicament he suggested I might have to “live with the question”. I think that for now, at least, that is good advice.
I can’t imagine my life without prayer as a major component and I expect I will always reach out to God to give thanks and praise and to offer supplications. Jesus will remain a hugely important figure in my life, even if I can’t commit to His teaching in the same way as my Christian friends. Living with the question at least gives me some peace of mind and I am open to the possibility that God, who is infinite, may reveal new truths to me in the future.
I have almost finished writing my second book which discusses my thinking around these issues in a lot more depth. I hope that the book will help others to gain insights into my struggle, which will in turn enrich their own spiritual journeys.
It is a good thing to seek the truth, and I hope and pray that God loves me for my struggle.
Do you wrestle with similar problems in your own life?
Are there questions to which you feel you must live with without an answer?
Can you relate to my struggle?