I read the story quite recently of a young man – Timothy.
He says that he has undergone a drastic change of philosophy and faith (or lack thereof), after spending years defending those who he now disdains (healthily, mind you, not mindlessly). He considers himself to be an agnostic. He marvels at the wonders of nature, and still thinks that there is something out there – he doesn’t disavow the existence of God but feels that God has never answered a single question.
He described how he had been married and had struggled with the simple concept of faith – he had grown up being told to just believe. He read about it; he studied it and he argued for it on an almost daily basis because he desperately wanted to make it his. He wrote of the ‘American Way’ – attending church at least three times a week – a time of desperately joining the hunt to be a part of buying shares in the afterlife.
After three years of marriage it all started to unravel. He had been diagnosed with ADHD as a child but never had any medication. He found ways to cope; he had an ability to analyse; he was a social outcast trying to fit in and never successfully finding a niche. He left church because he was disillusioned by the lack of faith he’d never been able to conquer. He wanted to believe so much but every step he took threw him back into more scepticism and disbelief. He hadn’t thrown away the concept of God nor had he denounced his faith. He was merely asking questions.
Timothy seems to have lost everything – divorce – foreclosure – loss of job – withdrawal from his band and no moral or emotional support from family. He went on to say, “Why wouldn’t God help someone on the verge of suicide? “Only he knows” is the cop out answer, “he’s a maniac” is far more apt for the argument in this case. When religion fails to bring you happiness, no matter how hard you try to buy into it, the only natural response is to abandon it”.
What made this story so interesting was then reading what the author had written some three years previously, where he had said that faith isn’t logical nor does it have to be. He was expressing his frustration at the inability of people to accept something as simple as faith! He described theology as the study of God – what we all believe – even if we believe that God doesn’t exist. He went on to say:
“Know what you believe. If you do, then someone sharing their faith with you shouldn’t affect you. If it does, rejoice. It’s because you weren’t grounded well enough in your theology to stand up to a barrage of ‘different information’.
I like being tried by people. It makes me a better person. I wouldn’t know as much as I do about Christ if people didn’t debate with me, Christian or not. I am tired of these never-ending debates on issues that no one knows anything about because the bulk of understanding comes from your pastor on Sunday morning.
God is bigger than labels, but we’re not. We are simple creatures that need classification systems, and a systematised theology is what we all need. We need to be founded in our faith.
I study about Jesus Christ. What about you?”
I found that last comment very significant.