I love the quote from the famous Christian thinker Origen of Alexandria, “[In] advanced matters of theology absolute confidence is possible only for two classes of people, saints and idiots.” Meaning it is difficult to have complete certainty about God all of the time. The basic answer is, continue to ask questions to become a person who has “faith seeking understanding”. I will explain this through my own journey. I will say that there is one thing I will leave out below, be humble. It did not factor into my “confidence in God” directly but there were times where I backed away had some words with God about feeling alone and then picked up the journey again, and I expect there will be more of these seasons in my life.
I grew up in a Christian environment but about college I had some serious questions about the version of Christianity which was presented to me by some of the people I was around. This led me on a quest to answer my questions. I think it is important that I never abandoned my faith, my understanding of God was sculpted in part by C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, one of the principles of the stories is that honest pursuit of God will ultimately end in finding God. I began to read books about and by adherents to other belief systems (particularly Muslims, Atheists, and Buddhists), I learned what these people believed and said about metaphysical existence (obviously atheists and Buddhists are little concerned with a Personal God). At the same time, I read into the questions and difficulties I had with my own religion (Christianity). In other words, I attempted to answer my questions about my faith, and look to see if other traditions had better answers to my questions. When I had questions about the creation story of Genesis I read what good Bible scholars said about Genesis 1 & 2, I read what Christian scientists said about earth’s creation and Christian faith and I read what other cultures said about the creation of the world. When I had questions about God and evil I read what Christian theologians said about the existence of evil. I also spent time reading how atheists addressed the questions of ethics and other religious ethical systems. This was a long and somewhat difficult task and I have been aided by three things 1 I have had time to do this 2 I have degrees which have pointed me toward the best writings available & 3 I enjoy reading and thinking about these difficult subjects. Am I an expert, no, but I have been able to settle my mind and if I grow unsettled I know where to go for answers.
If someone were to say to me, they do not have the three resources which were available to me then I would simplify the process by saying find someone who does have these three qualities and can help answer your questions. I would also say to continue to keep an open mind remembering that if you are honestly seeking God, God will not ignore you. It is not an easy process to stay confident in a world of mixed messages where everyone seems more confident about their beliefs than you sometimes feel. Stay humble and continue to look for answers to the questions that trouble you. Look for guides who can help on the journey.
For more information
General Christian beliefs:
C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity, God in the Dock & The Weight of Glory
N.T. Wright Simply Christian Or Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes it Good
Tim Keller The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
Saint Augustine of Hippo Confessions
Christianity & science (this was one of my difficulties so I include it):
John Polkinghorne & Nicholas Beale Questions of truth
John Polkinghorne Belief in God in an Age of Science
Francis Collins The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Denis Alexander Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?
Christianity & other religions:
Nabeel Qureshi No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity or Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity
Ravi Zacharias Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message
Alistar E. McGrath Intellectuals Don’t Need God and Other Modern Myths: Building Bridges to Faith Through Apologetics & Dawkins’ God: From The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion
Norman Geisler Christian Apologetics & I Don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist
Leave a Reply