Having been a Christian myself for many years, I fully respect the power of Christianity to transform minds and lives and I know that the majority of Christians are positively motivated; seeking Truth, seeking peace, and seeking God’s love. But part of the role God has given me in life is bringing to light some of the areas of Christian doctrine and practice that don’t make sense, and I would like to highlight one such area in this article. In doing so, I aim to encourage Christians to think deeply about certain aspects of their behaviour that demonstrate the theological problems evident in their faith.
I was watching a video recently from one of my favourite Christian YouTubers, and she described an experience which I’ve heard described by countless other Christians, and which I described having in my own life when I was a Christian. She said she was praying about an issue, then a little while later in her Bible reading she came to a passage which provided guidance in relation to the exact same issue that she was praying about, with the implication being that this was God answering her prayer.
Normally, Christians like to portray the idea that their prayer for assistance in such a scenario is offered of their own free will, but then they suggest, either implicitly (in the language they use) or explicitly (by stating directly), that God is controlling their actions when they navigate to and read the passage of Scripture that answers their prayer.
So, let us examine this scenario a little more closely.
The Truth of what happened to my YouTuber friend must be understood in relation to God’s sovereignty over all events. God is directing our lives in their entirety, and so after my friend prayed her prayer, God did indeed direct her to the passage in question, which answered her prayer request. But God also directed the prayer itself, and created the need for the prayer by unfolding my friend’s life circumstances in a particular way, which is something Christians would struggle to admit, because they know that to remove free will from human activity is to call into question the very principles of the Christian gospel and the Christian faith.
Christians prefer to describe the experience exemplified by my YouTuber friend in a way that avoids confronting this theological problem, usually by employing vague language. This keeps them safe from accusations of describing themselves as puppets in the hands of a sovereign God, which despite actually being true, Christians will not admit, either because they haven’t thought the issue through and don’t understand it, or because they are unwilling to risk being called out for having ‘unbiblical’ theology in an age where the principle of free will is widely embraced, both among Christians and in society in general.
This raises a couple of broader questions.
Are Christians really interested in the Truth? Or are they just looking for comfort by believing in Biblical teaching? I think in most cases both of these motivations apply, but where Christian doctrine and practice is shown to be out of line with the Truth, Christians tend to choose unsound theology coupled with Christianity, rather than sound theology and abandoning their faith. This is totally understandable, of course, because of the fear they must feel both of the reaction of their Christian community to apostasy and also the fear they likely have of a God who they believe will punish them if they depart from the Gospel, despite the fact that they profess this same God to be benevolent and loving.
So, which do you choose — sound theology, or Christianity?
I hope this article has provided food for thought. For a more detailed look at the way God is sovereign over all events, and how this understanding relates to the Christian faith, I recommend reading my book God’s Grand Game. Thank you for reading.
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