I have read the whole Bible and attended various Catholic and Protestant churches, and after much study and exploration I believe I have a pretty good idea of the central doctrines and tenets of the Christian faith. Those who have read my essay entitled An Almighty Predicament will know that there are some aspects of Christian doctrine that I struggle to accept and believe.
I have come to realise that there are two questions that I need to find answers to in order to determine whether or not I should be a Christian.
These two questions are interrelated. Jesus claims that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). But of course, we know about this claim from the Bible, so it only needs to be believed if the Bible represents absolute and exclusive Truth.
Within Christianity there are many different interpretations concerning what constitutes Truth. Learned Biblical scholars differ wildly concerning which interpretation of particular scriptures is correct, so it seems that interpretation is to a certain extent subjective. After all, the words of Scripture are merely markings on pages – the way we come to understand what is written is by God working in us as we read and reflect, and He can do this in myriad different ways.
The sole authority of the Bible is disputed by Catholics who believe Truth must be interpreted and defined by the leaders of the Catholic church. There are also many other groups who argue that the Protestant canon isn’t the exclusive embodiment of Truth and that we can find truth in nature, reason, and logic, as well as in other scriptures, whether it be the Qur’an, or the Book of Mormon, or some other supposedly inspired collection of writings.
How are we to know whether the 66 books of the Protestant Bible represent absolute and exclusive Truth? I believe the only way is through revelation from God to the human mind, resulting in a certain understanding or posture of faith. It must be a matter that we pray about, and ask God to help us discern.
Ultimately, what we believe to be true comes down to faith, and faith, I believe, comes from God. He is working out His plan for existence with sovereign authority, and whatever He wills us to believe is what we will believe. If you maintain it’s possible for us to believe things that are contrary to God’s will, then you are saying God is not in control of our lives, which is a belief that many Christians hold, but with which I profoundly disagree (read my aforementioned essay for a detailed account of my reasons why).
In my understanding God is completely sovereign, creation is His handiwork, and He is in control of all the details, including every aspect of our lives; our thoughts, words, actions, and beliefs (wouldn’t it be strange to pray to a God who isn’t in control?). And if I am to wholeheartedly dedicate my life to the teachings of Jesus Christ as we find them in the Bible, it will depend on God’s guidance, revelation, and ultimately, His will.
So I pray:
Lord God, shape me into who You want me to be, guide me so that I know I am on the right path, help me to live in a way that pleases You always. Be merciful to me and save me from any thoughts, words or deeds that lead to destruction. Sovereign God, help me to have sound understanding in matters of theology and Truth, and eradicate from me anything that is false, unsound, or evil. Help me to live well and be a blessing to others, and to be a person who will always be held in Your favour. Even if it’s difficult, Lord, show me the way. Amen.