A black puzzle with a piece missing

Living with the Question

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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?

38 comments

  1. Hi Stephen. I’ve read some of your posts, and each one I’ve managed to get to so far I have enjoyed. I sympathize with where you are. I agree that there is truth to the panentheistic view. Everything that has life has some measure of God in it. All things were created by Him and for Him. The spirit that moved upon the face of the waters in the creation is Jesus — and God. I’ve never tried to promote my writings, but if you haven’t seen it you might at least find it somewhat interesting, even if we do not totally agree.

    https://kindlingtruth.com/2017/07/23/gods-predetermined-will-for-the-election-of-his-children-in-christ/

    One thing I do know, is that when God puts a great zeal for His truth in you, that means something! I look forward to reading more of your articles.

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    1. Hi Amanda! Many thanks for taking the time to read some of my blog posts. I am subscribed to your blog and have been reading your articles as they come into my inbox. I am impressed by how well-written your posts are, although I find it difficult to read long articles on screen due to eye strain, so some of your articles I have only read part of. If they were in a book I’m quite convinced I would read them all! Have you written any books?

      Regarding my post, I’m glad you can sympathise with my predicament. Since I wrote this post I have really tried to focus on the Bible, which I read every day, and have tried to put its truth claims above anything else I believe. Actually, I have found there to be a LOT of support for God’s sovereignty in Scripture (see this post), and I feel more comfortable these days calling myself a Christian because I find that so much of what I believe is in fact Biblical.

      There’s a phrase that I learned which I’ve found very helpful – ‘dependent responsibility’. Despite the fact that ultimately God is in control, we still have, in a sense, a responsibility to make decisions. I’m not sure whether you would agree.

      You may have seen I’ve started a Facebook group – if you’re on Facebook please consider joining as your input would be very welcome! God bless 😊

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      1. Thanks for the note! I’ll check out the post you linked. What you say about dependent responsibility seems a lot like what I also believe. I know it can be hard to read my long-winded posts! I’ve thought about making a book out of the series I’m working on now, the Lord willing. It’s always great to chat with truth-seeking believers. The further we get and the more we see God in everything, it’s really amazing. Everything is so purposefully and perfectly orchestrated by Him! I’ll be happy to join your group. I tried doing that myself a while back but it didn’t take off too well. Hopefully you will have better luck! 🙂

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  2. Dear Steven, I can’t believe it is 5 years sine I left you a comment under the name of Sophia Harris. I have at last found my Guru who is called Mooji. He brings you to the TRUTH through watching his videos . He gives you such joy and he has painted a few pictures of Jesus as he used to be an art teacher. If you want to watch his videos you need to put Mooji.org And look under videos. Have a look and you will feel utter joy because he gives out so much love. I hope you can find the time to watch him as he is the end of all searching. I only have to watch him and I feel joy. Best wishes Sophia Harris.I would be interested to see what you think.

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    1. Hi Sophia!

      Wow, time flies, doesn’t it! Actually I’m very aware of Mooji because I used to go to his satsang sessions in his flat in Brixton, many years ago. I’m afraid that the path of Ramana Maharshi, Papaji, Mooji, etc, is NOT the way to be in right relationship with God! Any teacher that doesn’t teach biblical Christianity is deceiving people, although they probably don’t realise it… Please don’t be angry with me for saying this, it’s just what I’ve discovered after many years of spiritual searching. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life – the Son of God – not some kind of new age guru. I don’t know what Mooji has told you about Jesus but please be careful and please read the Bible!

      I would love to send you a free copy of my book The Philosophy of a Mad Man, as there is a whole chapter in the book dedicated to discussing my time with Mooji. I also go into depth about my spiritual journey and how I eventually came home to Jesus. Please drop me an email with your address so I can post you the book, my email address is here.

      God bless you Sophia, and please let’s keep in touch – would love to talk more!

      Steven

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  3. I would really like to send you my response through e-mail as I need more space than these comments allow. Could you send me your e-mail address, and I hope I can shed some light on your dilemmas?

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